mother comforting sad child

Will the Court Consider My Child’s Preference During a Custody Case?

For many, the most contentious part of divorce isn’t determining whether or not the proposed alimony payment is fair or who gets the family home; often, it’s determining how child custody will be split. If you and your spouse cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the courts will step in to issue a decision based on several factors. However, many parents wonder whether or not the judge will take their child’s preference of who they live with into consideration. The following blog explores these matters in further detail and why it’s in your best interest to connect with New Jersey child custody attorneys who can help you through these matters.

How Does the Court Make Custody Decisions in NJ?

In New Jersey, when a couple cannot agree on how to handle custody of a child, the courts will step in to examine several factors and determine what is in the best interest of the child. The “child’s best interest” standard is established to ensure the happiness, health, well-being, and safety of the child at the center of the issue is prioritized above the wants of the parents. As such, the courts will consider the following factors in custody cases:

  • The income of each parent
  • Each parent’s job and career demands
  • Whether or not there is a history of abuse or neglect by either parent
  • If either parent has substance abuse issues
  • Who the child’s primary caretaker was before the divorce

These are just some of the most important factors the judge will take into consideration when issuing a decision regarding your custody arrangement. It’s also important to note that they typically decide on two kinds of custody – physical and legal. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make important decisions for the child, while physical custody determines who will care for the child.

Will My Child’s Preference Be Considered?

When going through a divorce, your child will likely have thoughts and opinions about which parent they would like to live with following the separation. In some instances, the judge overseeing your case will take their opinions into account, if they are old enough and mature enough to understand the gravity of the situation. There is no set age at which a child can express their opinions. Instead, the judge will determine this on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, even if a child does express their preference, the judge may not take it into consideration. For example, if they want to live with their mom solely because their dad is more strict about grades, the judge would not give this opinion much weight.

As you can see, there are several considerations that can influence the outcome of a custody decision by the courts. That’s why it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced attorney to explore your legal options if you file for divorce and have children with your spouse. At Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn, we understand how tough these matters can be, which is why we are dedicated to fighting for the best interests of you and your family. Connect with our team today to learn more.

Contact Us Today
Website Designed & Managed by