Are you a divorcing parent? If so, you are most likely wondering whether your child has a say in, or who can choose, which parent he or she wants to live with. Unfortunately, matters concerning child custody are often difficult for all parties involved, and, as a result, can lead to heated arguments and hotly-contested legal battles. That said, the courts will consider a variety of factors when determining the outcome of a child custody agreement, and it is important that you, as a parent, understand these things. Please continue reading and reach out to a knowledgeable and dedicated Somerset County child custody attorney who can walk you through the process, ensure you are well-informed, and fight for the best outcome possible on your behalf. Here are some of the questions you may have:
Can my child choose which parent he or she wants to reside with?
In short, the answer is no, children under the age of 18 cannot outright decide on a child custody agreement. However, a child who is deemed old or mature enough may speak with the judge and convey whether or not they have a preference as to which parent they’d prefer not to live with. This preference is not law, but it can potentially sway a judge’s ultimate decision.
What other factors do courts consider when determining a child custody agreement in New Jersey?
It’s worth understanding that your child’s preference is, by far, not the only thing courts will consider when determining a child custody agreement. To start, any determination they make will be based on what they believe to be in the best interests of the child. With the best interests of the child in mind, they will consider the following when determining a child custody agreement:
- The child’s age, health, and needs
- The bond the child shares with each parent
- The age and health of each parent
- Whether either parent poses a risk or threat to a child, such as by having a drug abuse problem or a history of violence
- The geographic proximity of each parent to one another
- Whether each parent can provide financially for the child
- Whether each parent can offer the child a safe, stable home
- Whether the custody decision would require taking the child out of their school
- Any other factor the court deems relevant
Ultimately, the courts will make custody decisions based on what they believe to suit a child’s best interests, which is why if you’re fighting for custody, you need a competent lawyer who can effectively prove your case. If you have any further questions, simply contact the Siragusa Law Firm for help today.