In New Jersey, a child cannot unilaterally determine which parent he or she will live with once the divorce is finalized. Once the child turns 18, the child then has the ultimate say on where he or she will reside. Before attaining the age of 18 a child will have at least some level of input as to where he or she will be residing, however, in a contested custody proceeding the final decision will be made by the courts.
The courts in New Jersey are bound to consider the Custody laws as set forth in NJS 9: 2-4. This statute sets forth the factors the courts must consider in making a custody award, such as the parent's ability to agree, the communication and level of cooperation exhibited between the parents regarding the child related issues, the parent's willingness to accept custody, the child's preference if the child is of appropriate age, etc.
Custody may be decided on an interim basis during the pendency of the divorce if the parties live in separate residences. No final custody determinations are made until such time as the divorce proceeding has been concluded either by way of mutual agreement or by way of trial.
New Jersey law further provides that both parents must be considered to have equal standing as it relates to all custody issues. The Judge, after being presented with all of the relevant evidence, may make a determination that one of the litigants is in a better position to care for the child the majority of the time. For a Judge to render such a decision the litigant will need to present evidence supporting the fact that the other spouse is not as well equipped to care for the child as a result of such issues as work commitments, a history of being uninvolved with child, a lack of understanding as to the child's needs, a lack of involvement in the child's daily life routines, etc.
In order to present to the court the appropriate evidence to win a custody proceeding it is imperative that you are prepared to present your case adequately. One way to ensure this is to make sure you hire an attorney who is experienced in all aspects of child custody proceedings in New Jersey.
The experienced child custody lawyers at the Villani & DeLuca law firm can assist you with developing the custody plan for your children that is in their best interests. Call us now to schedule your free initial child custody consultation.