Yesterday, my post on this blog was called "Alimony – Back to Basics." Just like with alimony, over the years, we have had dozens of posts on this blog about custody and parenting issues. However, just like with alimony, there are statutory factors that the court, as well as the custody experts, must consider when making decisions (for judges) or recommendations (for experts) related to custody and parenting time.
The following is a refresher on the custody factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 9:2-4 that must be considered:
1. the parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
2. the parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse;
3. the interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings;
4. the history of domestic violence, if any;
5. the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
6. the preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision;
7. the needs of the child;
8. the stability of the home environment offered;
9. the quality and continuity of the child’s education;
10. the fitness of the parents;
11. the geographical proximity of the parents’ homes;
12. the extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation;
13. the parents’ employment responsibilities;
14. and the age and number of the children.
These factors are not all inclusive but represent the minimum of what must be considered. After you decide that you wish to seek custody (or perhaps before you decide to jump into that battle) you should go down each of these factors and review, as objectively as possible, how they would apply to your case.
Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or firstname.lastname@example.org.