The death of a parent is one of the most difficult experiences a child may face. However, in addition to dealing with the grief associated with the death of a parent, a child may also have to deal with the chaos associated with child custody proceedings. New Jersey law stipulates that any custody decision must be made in accordance with the best interests of the child.
If the other parent is still alive
If a child’s mother or father is still alive, that parent will likely be given full child custody rights. However, this assumes that the living parent can meet a child’s emotional, financial and other needs. Otherwise, another family member may petition to be a child’s primary caregiver on a temporary or permanent basis.
If the other parent is deceased
If a child has no living parents, another family member may be allowed to raise the minor. For instance, an aunt who lives in the same town where the child goes to school may be given custody of the child until a permanent solution can be arranged. In some cases, an older sibling may be allowed to care for a child who has been orphaned. It’s also possible that a child will be placed in foster care until an adoptive family can be found or until reaching the age of majority.
When drafting or approving a custody order, a judge will need to make sure that the child’s best interests are preserved. You may use medical records, witness statements or other evidence to show that your child thrives while in your care. It may also be used to show that you are physically, mentally and financially capable of raising a minor to adulthood.