The process of getting divorced can feel like an emotional roller coaster, especially when young children are involved. You may naturally worry about who will end up getting custody of the children and how the children will feel about the new arrangement.
Because deciding child custody can be an emotional process, who gets custody of the children can be a challenging choice to make in many divorce cases. Here is a rundown on how child custody cases are generally handled in New Jersey.
What kind of arrangement are you pursuing?
An important first step in tackling child custody is to figure out what the best custody arrangement would be for your family. For instance, maybe you could both make essential decisions regarding your children's welfare and upbringing. In this situation, you would have joint legal custody of your children. Alternatively, if you feel that the other party is not fit to handle parental responsibilities, you might want to seek sole custody.
Who is making the custody decision?
In many situations involving child custody, parents are able to develop parenting agreements that cover child custody as well as visitation. You and your spouse may be able to do the same through informal negotiations or an alternative dispute resolution process, such as mediation. For instance, you and your future ex may decide that it is best for you to maintain physical custody of your children while still giving the other parent plenty of visitation opportunities.
However, if you and your future ex cannot reach an agreement on custody, you will have to take the matter to a family law judge. The judge will look at several factors for determining which parent should gain custody of the children. For example, the judge may look at who the children's primary caretaker is before awarding custody to either parent. Also, if the children are older, the judge may take into consideration their personal preferences.
Your rights when dealing with child custody
Whether you find yourself tackling child custody outside of court or at trial, an attorney can help you to pursue the most personally favorable outcome possible given the circumstances surrounding your divorce. At the same time, the attorney will especially focus on what is ultimately in the best interests of the children, as this is the main concern of the family law court involved in your custody case.