Mothers succeeding in gaining legal and physical custody of their children was not a surprise for divorced fathers at one time. Today, things are changing. A father who wants to remain part of his children’s lives through joint custody is winning these rights throughout New Jersey and the rest of the country. And, if a child’s safety or well-being is at risk with his mother, the courts are even willing to consider awarding sole custody to the father.
Under New Jersey law, the court will look at a series of factors to determine how the custody arrangement will be settled in the best interest of the child. Pursuant to N.J.S.A.9:2-4(c), the judge will consider:
- How many children there are, and how old they are;
- The parents’ employment statuses and what the work demands are on each parent;
- How much time the parents spent with the children prior to the divorce;
- How close the parents live to each other after the divorce;
- The physical and emotional fitness of the parents;
- How the custody arrangement will impact the children’s education;
- What type of home environment will be offered;
- What are the specific needs of each child;
- If the child is old enough, what is the preference of the child;
- The relationship of the child with each parent and any siblings who might reside in the home;
- How well the parents communicate with each other about the issues that relate to the child;
- Whether there is any history of a parent interfering with the visitation of the other without any legitimate reason, such as substantiated allegations of abuse;
- Whether the safety of the child has ever been jeopardized by abuse from anyone living in the home; and
- Whether there is a history of domestic abuse.
Seeking Joint Custody
A father can increase his odds of obtaining custody when the right tactics are utilized. It’s true that biases still exist, but the perception that the mother will be the best parent for custody is changing. Most courts now recognize the importance of a child’s loving relationship with both parents and will be happy to consider this factor when determining how a custody arrangement will affect the overall well-being of the child.
Your primary motivation for seeing your child is the quality time you get to have together, but it can also be helpful to your custody case. If you’ve always been involved in the daily activities of your children, then, as the father, this is advantageous when trying to gain custody of your children. You’re in much better shape in terms of gaining custody than a father who has been absent from his children’s lives.
Here are some additional suggestions to improve your odds of remaining a large part of your child’s life.
Assert your desire to have shared or full custody or significant visitation from the very beginning. Do not presume that you will get your chance to voice your wish for regular contact later in the divorce process. Be clear about your custody desires from the very beginning. You should take steps to show the court that you know how much care your child will require. You also need to be prepared to show the court you meet those needs.
Never discuss child care as part of the custody discussions. This will confuse the issue and may convince the court that you are more concerned with reducing payments than spending time with your child.
Be clear about how the schedule will impact the child. Flushing out a schedule on paper will help all parties find gaps in the schedule they may have missed otherwise. Child custody and visitation schedules can be altered to meet the best interest of the children.
Develop an amicable relationship with your child’s mother. Often, this is very difficult because of the emotions that surround a divorce and child custody. But you’re going to co-parent your child(ren), and it is critical to establish the best possible relationship with your ex. This will help you avoid a bitter NJ custody battle.
Find an attorney who is prepared to fight for the rights of the father. There are old-school attorneys who erroneously believe that the children are better off with their mothers. You need to be certain that your attorney will do everything possible to maximize the time that you spend with your children. Don’t be afraid to ask your attorney questions or switch attorneys if necessary.
Promising News for NJ Fathers
If you’re worried you’ll never see your child after the divorce is finalized, you can breathe a sigh of relief. NJ custody laws for fathers generally dictate that you should be entitled to time with your child, even after a divorce.
In recent years, judges are more and more inclined to accept that the best interest of the child means having regular, significant contact with his or her father. There’s been a drastic increase in custody agreements splitting time between both parents and awarding custody to the father if the circumstances support that decision. Unless the judge has a very strong reason to deny you custody, you shouldn’t let worries that you’ll never be able to see your child keep you up at night. Even if your ex is deceptive about your relationship with your kid, the family law courts will work hard to see the truth during a custody case.
Custody Attorneys for Fathers in New Jersey
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm focusing exclusively on men’s and fathers’ rights in New Jersey. If you need an attorney who is going to fight for your rights as a dad, The Micklin Law Group, LLC is here for you. Our NJ child custody lawyers for fathers have the experience to prepare the best argument for custody. We’ll show the court what a devoted father you are to change the pace of a custody agreement. Lead Attorney Brad Micklin has several decades of experience working on divorce and custody cases in New Jersey. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.