Predicting the exact outcome of a litigated custody case in New Jersey is all but impossible. The standard a judge must apply for their decisions is the best interests of the children, and what upholds those interests is open to interpretation.
Custody decisions should always reflect what a judge thinks will be best for the children. Typically, parents can assume that the best interests of their children will include shared custody arrangements. However, there are numerous factors that influence the exact parenting plan the courts decide is right for the children.
What family factors influence what the courts see as the best interests of the children?
The existing family relationships
Every child needs to develop a strong and secure attachment to their primary caregiver. The younger a child is, the more important that bond is for their development.
A judge trying to make a decision about what is best for the kids will absolutely look at the current role each parent plays in the children’s lives. A parent who spends more time with the kids and has a stronger bond may receive more parenting time, especially when the children are younger. Still, the judge will likely try to balance that bond with the important relationship with the other parent.
The stability and parenting skills each adult presents to the courts
You may be a dedicated and loving parent, but if you come across as unpredictable, emotional and unstable in court, a judge may factor that perceived instability into their custody decisions.
Demonstrating your ability to parent and to provide a stable and safe household for the children is crucial to your chance of success in securing shared or primary custody.
The unique needs of the children in your family
No two children are exactly alike. Everything from an autism diagnosis to childhood trauma can influence what the children in your family need after a divorce. The needs of a breastfeeding infant will be much different than those of a toddler or a teenager. A judge will factor in most special considerations when making major decisions about custody for your family.
Learning more about the custody process can help you present a compelling case to the courts during your divorce.