Many men and fathers in New Jersey are under the impression that they will have to accept an uneven custody arrangement after their divorce. They may assume that the mother of their children is entitled to primary custody, especially if she is a stay-at-home parent or handles the majority of the childrearing in the family. However, most family court judges are much happier to grant joint custody these days. Here are a few reasons why this is the preferred custody arrangement.
Less Disruptive to the Child
Assuming both parents will be staying in the general vicinity of the previous family home after the divorce, most judges believe that joint custody is actually less disruptive to the child’s life. Although it may initially seem that going back-and-forth between houses can be disruptive to the child, the stability of having equal time with both parents is what matters most in the situation. Exceptions may be made if one parent plans to move a great distance due to a job offer or for a fresh start. In this case, a child may not be able to continue their life as usual if a judge ordered joint custody.
Maintains Important Relationships
Several studies have shown that it is best for children to maintain a relationship with both parents after a divorce, assuming both are well-suited parents and will treat the child right. Judges also understand that men deserve to have a relationship with their child just as much as their ex-wives do. The relationship isn’t just important to the child; it is equally if not more important to the father that he remains in his child’s life.
Divides Responsibility Equally Between Parents
When a couple is married, it is common for one parent to make more decisions about their child. For example, a stay-at-home mom may be responsible for making decisions about their child’s education, after school activities, the medical provider they see, and more. This works because the spouses trust each other to make decisions they both agree with. However, after a divorce, co-parents are more likely to be at odds. One parent may begin to push to dictate the child’s life. If that parent is given primary custody of the child, the other parent (often the father) may feel as if he has no say in how his child is raised. By granting joint custody, judges hope to give each parent a relatively equal say in how the child is raised.
Best Interests of the Child
Overall, a family court judge is most interested in what is best for the child when determining joint custody. They will take into account numerous factors, from the child’s current relationship with extended family to where their friends live and where they attend school. The bottom line is that after considering these factors most judges will find that it is best for the child to split time between homes. If you are a father in New Jersey who believes it is not in your child’s best interest to spend equal time with you and your ex, our child custody attorneys in New Jersey can help. Of course one of the most serious concerns is that your ex may be miss treating your child. This is considered an emergency in many cases and it requires prompt action. However, our attorneys also work with fathers who understand that their ex should be given a reasonable amount of parenting time with the child but do not feel that a 50-50 split is the best option. We will help you present this case to the judge so they can consider all the evidence before making a final ruling. Contact our team.