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Will the Court Consider the Child’s Preference in Custody Cases?

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Going through a divorce is a complex and emotional time that can grow even more challenging when you have children to consider. For many parents, determining a child custody schedule is often one of the most contentious parts of this process. Both parents likely want to spend as much time with their little one as possible, which can lead to a bitter battle for some. However, it’s critical to understand what factors the courts will consider when issuing a decision on these matters. One such element is the child’s preference as to which parent they reside with. If you are divorcing and custody is at play, you’ll want to keep reading to learn more about how a Somerset County child custody attorney can help.

What Factors Influence a Custody Decision?

When you and your spouse share a child and decide to divorce, you may be able to reach an agreement on a custody plan that works for you. It’s important to understand that there are two kinds of custody – physical and legal. Physical custody regards where a child resides, while legal custody determines who has the right to make important legal decisions regarding the child.

If parents cannot agree on a custody plan, the courts will step in to issue a decision. However, they will first examine several circumstances surrounding these matters, including, but by no means limited to, the following:

  • The income of each parent
  • The work schedule and career demands of each parent
  • Who the primary caregiver was
  • Whether or not either parent has a history of domestic violence or neglect
  • Whether or not either parent struggles with substance abuse issues
  • Where the parents live in relation to each other
  • How disruptive a change of custody would be for the child

Essentially, these factors are all considered as a means of determining the child’s best interest. This is the standard New Jersey courts adhere to to ensure the health, well-being, and happiness of the child are prioritized above the desires of the parents.

Does the Court Take a Child’s Preference Into Consideration?

It is important to understand that the courts will consider a child’s preference when making a custody decision. However, they must also factor in the child’s age, maturity, and understanding of the situation. Additionally, what the child wants may not be in their best interest. For example, they may want to live with their mom because she is less strict about grades, while their dad holds them to a higher educational standard.

While some say a child needs to be at least 14 to share their opinion with a judge, this is far from the truth. The judge can interview the child before determining whether or not they are old enough to consider their preference.

As you can see, there are many factors that can influence the outcome of a custody decision. That’s why it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced attorney from the Siragusa Law Firm as soon as possible to explore your legal options. Connect with us today to learn how we can fight for your rights during these emotional times.

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