Divorce is never an easy process, especially when children are involved. The family life you pictured, and the one your child or children have counted on, suddenly becomes vastly different than what you expected. One thing that makes it all a bit easier, however is to keep things as amicable as possible.
What is an Amicable Divorce?
When a divorce is amicable, both parties are mostly agreed on how assets will be divided and there is a general agreement on how custody is to be divided. In most cases, this turns out to be 50/50 custody or something close to it, because both parents play a vital role in nurturing the children. But even when everyone appears to be on the same page, there may still be some debate over what type of dynamics are best for the children involved. The deciding factor lies with what is best for the child. To some extent you may be able to find some common ground with your soon to be ex-spouse when it comes to a custody agreement, but it is still important to get a lawyer on your side to help protect your rights and to look out for your kids long term. There are many issues to consider, including:
- Your child’s age
- Your child’s lifestyle and routines
- School and activities
- The level of bond they have with each parent
- The location where each parent intends to live
- Extended family connections
- Each parent’s work and community obligations
- and more
If one parent is not available a good portion of the time, and the other parent is, then custody could shift to the more available parent.
Categories of Child Custody
Family court looks at child custody in many different ways. These include:
Legal custody — The ability to be involved with major decisions that affect your child, such as medical care and education. In most cases, both parents share legal custody whether the child lives in both households or not.
Physical or Residential Custody — Determines your child’s primary address and how often the child spends time with their other parent at their alternate residence.
Joint vs. Sole Custody — Both legal and residential custody can be considered joint, where both parents have a share, or sole, where one parent has legal rights.
Denial or Refusal of Custody — This situation is rare and is reserved for when one parent is incapable or unwilling to keep up with their care of the child, often this happens when the safety of the child is in jeopardy.
What’s Best For The Child
The main navigator in any child custody case is what is best for the child, and often there can be a lot of conflicting opinions on that, even when everyone is doing their best to get along. In many cases, it is helpful for parents to work with an impartial mediator to find common ground when it comes to custody arrangements. In addition to any agreement the parents come up with, the judge also considers many other factors including:
- A history of domestic violence
- The child’s safety
- The child’s relationship with siblings
- The stability of the home
- The child’s education
- The fitness of the parents
- The parents’ employment
- The time spent with the child during separation
- The child’s needs, and sometimes their opinion
The more a couple can present their custody case to the judge as being on the same page, and equally competent to care for any children, the more likely that agreement will hold up. These plans are often referred to as parenting plans, because being on the same page with a parenting strategy will usually be what is best for the child.
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What a Child Wants
While a child’s desires regarding where they live is taken into consideration, it is not necessarily a deciding factor. The child could be motivated by several factors, and judges know this. One parent may enforce a later bedtime or curfew or may have bought the child more presents since the separation. While this may be influential to a child, it is less so to a judge. Both the child’s age and their maturity level will be considered.
Making a Schedule That Works For Everyone
While there is likely no “perfect” scenario, it helps to be on the same page when it comes to a visitation schedule. This may mean that both parents come up with what they would like to see and negotiate from there. By working with a Hackensack Child Custody Attorney, you can see that your ideas are given full consideration when it comes to the time you will spend with your child after your divorce. Clearing up any discrepancies before seeing the judge is important because it will help keep you and the other parent in control of your child’s future, rather than the courts.
Amicable divorces are relative, and when it comes to spending time with a child, there tends to be a lot of strong opinions, even when everyone gets along. Sometimes whatever is decided about custody, doesn’t continue to be the best for the child as they get older and their needs change. Sometimes this means a trip back to court, or additional counsel with a Hackensack Child Custody Attorney.
Whatever situation you are in, at Mr. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey, we will help you show your side of the story, and get the time with your child that best suits their needs and your abilities. When it comes to child custody, men are often handed the short end of the stick, regardless of their caregiving abilities. To learn more about how we can help make a smoother transition in your custody case, feel free to contact me.