Most common issues in child custody cases
Child custody is easily one of the most complex matters under family law. Not only are the stakes and emotions high for all the parties involved, but the outcome of child custody matters can have an outsized impact on the lives of the children involved in such matters.
Below are some of the most common issues that arise in complex and disputed child custody cases.
Read more: Child Custody Laws In New Jersey
Relocation is often the most contentious issue that can arise in child custody cases, especially if the parent of primary residence seeks to relocate a considerable distance away or out of state with the children. Relocation typically greatly upsets parenting time arrangements, with one parent often facing the prospect of limited parenting time with their children.
New Jersey courts evaluate petitions for relocation, or requests for modification of custody or parenting time due to relocation, based on the children’s best interest. In most cases, courts assume that facilitating the maximum amount of contact with both parents serves children’s best interests. However, this can be difficult to make work when one parent moves to a different state or a different country.
When a parent of primary residence seeks to relocate with the parties’ children, courts will consider various factors in deciding whether to grant relocation, including:
- The disruption to the parent-child relationship with the other parent
- Whether the other parent has been regularly exercising parenting time
- The availability of extended family in the proposed relocation area
- The disruption to the child’s education, extracurricular activities, friendships, and relationships with other family members
- Whether benefits to the relocating parent (such as educational opportunities or increased income) will also have a benefit for the child
- Whether the parent-child relationship with the other parent can be meaningfully maintained through an alternative parenting time schedule, such as granting extended parenting time during school breaks
Allegations of domestic violence will always have an important impact on child custody matters. If one parent makes credible allegations of abuse, neglect, or violence, or obtains a protective order against the other parent, courts will need to consider whether the existing custody and parenting time arrangement puts both the alleged victim parent and the parties’ children at risk of harm.
If allegations of domestic violence are substantiated, it can lead courts to temporarily suspend or alter custody arrangements, pending satisfaction of conditions designed to ensure the safety of the children, or to terminate the abusive parent’s physical or legal custody rights.
Violations of Temporary Custody Orders
Courts often issue temporary custody orders to establish a tenable situation until the court can conduct hearings to issue a final custody order or until the parties are able to reach a settlement. These temporary custody orders must be fully observed by both parties; violations can negatively impact the custody rights that the violating parent is ultimately awarded in a final custody order, since courts may look at awarding custody rights or significant parenting time to a parent who cannot follow the court’s orders as not in the child’s best interest.
Children with physical and developmental disabilities have specialized needs for their care and growth, including increased medical expenses, specialized services, and accommodations. Parents who wish to exercise significant parenting time with their children with serious disabilities must show they have the ability and willingness to take care of their child’s special needs. This includes having appropriate living accommodations, adequate extended family support systems, and appropriate education and insight into their child’s condition.
Finally, disputes between parents regarding child rearing can introduce significant complexity into a custody matter. Although courts prefer to have parents equally share in parenting time and legal decisions for their children, where parents cannot amicably work together to facilitate parenting time and the development of healthy parent-child relationships, or to make decisions together regarding their children’s education, healthcare, or moral upbringing, it can lead the court to lean towards custody arrangements that favor one parent (especially if the court determines that one parent is creating the disputes) so as to avoid conflict moving forward.
Read more: What Is The Divorce Process In NJ?
Contact a Clark Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Child Custody in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Team Law represent clients throughout the state, including Camden, Passaic, Union City, and Bayonne. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (732) 540-1394 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 136 Central Ave., Clark, NJ 07066, as well as offices located in West New York, Perth Amboy, Edison, Summit, Newark, New Brunswick, Orange, Plainfield, and Jersey City.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.