In every state, New Jersey included, courts guiding a divorce to completion emphasize a child’s best interests in all decisions that deal with parts of the child’s life. Should the parents find themselves unable to agree on a parenting plan for their children in advance of their separation, it falls to the judge to put themselves in the position of a parent and determine the child’s best interest. This blog post will explain the “best interest of the child” standard in divorce proceedings. If you are concerned about a possible divorce, you can always talk to a Mountainside child custody attorney. With our years of experience, we’ll guide you through this difficult time.
What Are the Factors in the Best Interest of the Child Standard?
There is a very long and non-exclusive list of factors a judge can weigh before deciding on the best interests of the child. These include:
- The willingness of each parent to communicate, cooperate, accept custody decisions, and share parenting time
- The relationship of the child to their parents and siblings
- History of domestic violence, if any, and safety from future physical and emotional abuse
- The work responsibilities of each parent
As a part of its factfinding, the court will request evidence from the parents about these areas of interest: documents, third-party testimony, and even expert opinions, among others.
What’s the Process in a Custody Dispute?
Custody parents very rarely, if ever, go directly before a judge. Most often, divorce proceedings encourage parents to negotiate and agree on a parenting plan. However, if the parents cannot cooperate and cannot agree with each other. In this situation, a court will likely hire an expert evaluator, who will study the case for up to several months before deciding on which recommendations to present to the court.
Evaluations vary in their cost, length, and involvement of the expert, so the type of evaluation used will be decided as everything else to do with the child in divorce proceedings: the parents are allowed to coordinate, and should they be unable to agree, the court will select one. Expert evaluators have both training in behavioral sciences and in how to apply that to a legal scenario, and so carry a lot of weight in court.