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What factors determine the best interests of the child?

When New Jersey parents go through a divorce, their main priority is shielding their children from any unnecessary conflict and stress they may experience. Even though the end of a marriage is about the two adults in the relationship, the youngest members of the family can have a difficult time with this decision. In order to prevent unnecessary emotional and mental duress, parents will find it beneficial to focus on the best interests of their kids above all else.

If you are a parent, you may be wondering what factors determine the best interests of your child. Of course, you rightfully believe you know what is best for your child, but if you go to court, there are certain things the court will consider when making final decisions. Regardless of whether you go to court or negotiate the terms of your agreement with the other parent, it is important to strive for the child's long-term happiness and stability.

Considerations for your child

Various factors could affect your child, and these are things you want to consider when deciding what terms would be best. When making these decisions, it is prudent to think about what makes sense not only now but also well into the future. Some of these things include: 

  • Your mental and physical health
  • Special needs your child may have
  • Wishes expressed by your child
  • Religious preferences and training
  • Education and extracurricular activities
  • As much continuity of life as possible
  • Age of your child
  • Relationships with other family members, such as grandparents
  • Patterns of domestic violence or emotional abuse
  • Allegations of neglect or mistreatment
  • Evidence of any drug or alcohol abuse by the parent

Decisions based on your emotions may feel good in the moment, but they rarely make sense long-term. If you are fighting for a reasonable custody plan that truly prioritizes the best interests of your child, it may be necessary to set aside your anger, disappointment and other feelings in order to make practical and reasonable choices. 

Your choices matter

The decisions made during your divorce either in the courtroom or around the negotiating table will affect your family for years to come. It is in your interests and for the benefit of your child to work with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through every step of this process. With the right help, you can lay the foundation for a strong and stable post-divorce future for your little one and yourself.

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