For most New Jersey parents, their children's future is of the utmost importance. If those parents are not living together, child custody arrangements are nearly always at the forefront of their concerns. Regardless of whether parents are getting a divorce or confronting paternity issues, numerous factors are considered in creating or modifying those arrangements.
New Jersey courts are responsible for interpreting what is in the best interests of the children when ruling on custody and visitation. Most often, judges are in favor of both parents having as much access to the children as possible, unless circumstances exist that could put the children in danger. For example, if one parent has a substance abuse problem, physical or sexual abuse has taken place or a party is otherwise deemed unfit, the court may limit visitation, require supervised visitation or deny a parent access to the children altogether.
If none of these extreme factors is present, you and the other parent are encouraged to create your own parenting plan for the court's approval. This is done outside the courtroom, and allows you to customize your plan to fit your family's unique needs. Attorneys for each of you can assist in creating the plan and document it in accordance with state laws. The more issues that are dealt with in the original agreement, the less likely it is that it will need to be modified in the future. However, if family circumstances require the plan to be changed, an attorney can advise you regarding the steps that need to be taken to effect those changes.
Most parents want their children to be happy. Keeping this thought in mind during negotiations regarding a child custody agreement could keep you and the other parent motivated to create a plan that works for everyone. More information regarding this and other family law issues is available on our website.