Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Knowledge of child custody options can bring peace of mind

Most parents hate to see their children suffer or get hurt. When it comes to divorce, it is often very difficult to protect the children from hurt, but knowledge of the different child custody options available to New Jersey parents may be beneficial. If one knows the available choices, the process may be less stressful for all.

The first thing to consider is what custody option would be best suited for a family's individual situation. When both parents want to be involved in decisions regarding the lives of their children, a joint legal custody arrangement may be the best outcome. When one parent believes the other parent is incapable or unfit to fulfill parental duties, an application for sole legal custody may be the preferable approach.

The second consideration depends very much on the process followed by the divorcing parties. Should parents be able to negotiate and reach an agreement out of court on the visitation and custody arrangements, the decision is primarily that of the parents. Often, such agreements are reached with assistance of different parties, such as the lawyers representing the parties, mediators and even counselors. When no agreement can be reached, the final decision will be made by the court.

A number of important factors are always considered, no matter if the decision is agreed upon between the parties or made by the court. The best interests of the children involved is always the central focus, and the courts will often consider which parent has acted as the primary caregiver over the course of the marriage. In certain limited situations, the court may also give consideration to the preferences expressed the the child or children involved. 

In matters involving children, a court's main aim will be to arrive at a child custody decision that protects their emotional and physical well-being. Many times, these are complex and difficult decisions, though all things being equal, the trend is toward fashioning a parenting plan that reflects true joint custody and co-parenting. Fortunately, New Jersey family law lawyers are there to act as guides during the divorce process.

Source: FindLaw, "Custody Considerations: Step-By-Step", Accessed on April 19, 2017

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