One of the main concerns in any divorce is child custody. This can be an especially significant concern for fathers, who may worry about a judge favoring their child’s mother.
It’s a common misconception that courts will almost always appoint the mother full custody. In reality, custody laws in New Jersey are gender neutral – meaning both parents have an equal chance of gaining custody of their child. And most of the time, a judge will encourage joint custody unless one parent is deemed unfit.
Joint custody can include joint physical custody, joint legal custody or both:
- Physical custody: This describes who the child will live with.
- Legal custody: This describes who will make important, long-lasting decisions about the child such as ones about their education, medical care and religion.
A court will consider the best interest of your child when making all custody decisions. A few factors used to determine your child’s best interest include:
- The health of both parents
- The age and sex of the child
- The location of the parents
- Special needs the child may have
- Religious or cultural considerations
- The child’s preference (if 12 or older)
- Any history of domestic violence
- Any history of drug or alcohol abuse
Based on these criteria, a judge will decide if sole custody, joint custody or another arrangement is best for your family. And they will take a holistic approach when deciding this – they won’t just weigh one or two factors.
Child custody battles can be challenging and stressful. If you’re a dad worried about gaining custody of your child, you should consider contacting an experienced child custody attorney near you.