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The basics of child custody

New Jersey parents who are either divorcing or separating often have several concerns regarding what will happen to their children. One of the biggest questions regarding child custody relates to the standard used by the court to award custody. Another concern may be the issue of paternity.

Establishing paternity is most often only a concern in cases where the parents were not married. However, there are cases where married men do not believe they fathered one or more of their children. Regardless, the issue of paternity would be settled by the court prior to considering any child custody arrangements.

The current standard used by the New Jersey courts in custody cases is what is in the best interests of the children. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own, the court will hear evidence from both sides regarding what each parent believes is best for the children and will then make a decision. Parents can negotiate their own child custody agreement, which can be tailored to the family's needs. So long as the agreement does not violate public policy or any laws, the court will most likely approve it.

There is often much more to child custody matters that can be covered here. Each family's circumstances are unique and require a comprehensive review in order to determine what will work best for the children and the parents. Most parents simply want to make sure that they give their children the best life possible even if they are no longer going to be a couple. When the parties keep that in mind, the process often becomes less complicated and a settlement more easily attainable.

Source: The Huffington Post, "A Legal Overview of Child Custody and Support in Divorce Cases", Brad Reid, June 24, 2015

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