An overarching consideration in custody disputes is what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. The best interest of a child is a broad and vague criterion, as the way to raise a child is subject to personal preference and varying professional philosophy. When couples divorce, they will often exaggerate or overcompensate their qualities relating to what is in the best interest of the child, or they will highlight and exploit the negative concepts about their spouse to show that living with them is not in the best interest of the child.
However, ultimately, the court has the final say on a custody order and their decision involves evaluation of the safety, happiness, and physical, mental, and moral welfare of the child. New Jersey law specifies several objective factors for the court to consider when evaluating each parent’s appeal. The statutory factors that the court must consider in making a custody award include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
- The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow visitation not based on substantiated abuse;
- The interaction and relationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings;
- The history of domestic violence, if any;
- The safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
- The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision;
- The needs of the child;
- The stability of the home environment offered;
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education;
- The fitness of the parents;
- The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes;
- The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation;
- The parents’ employment responsibilities; and
- The age and number of the children.
Each of these factors is considered when deciding what is the best opportunity for the child’s welfare. Because these factors can vary significantly from case to case, when it comes to contested custody issues, an attorney is the best way to fight for custody. An experienced family law attorney can help ensure that you are highlighting all the necessary qualities and circumstances to meet the statutory factors.
Call our office at (215) 515-8464 for more information.
The experienced Philadelphia attorneys at Smith and Horwitz have handled countless custody cases and delivered successful results. We understand all the factors the court considers and are experienced in collecting the facts and delivering them effectively to the court. Call our Pennsylvania custody attorneys today.