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Child custody in New Jersey

In New Jersey child custody disputes, the courts consider the rights of parents equally in making their decisions. After considering the best interests of the child, a court may then order sole custody, joint custody or any other custody arrangement the court determines is in the child's best interest.

In making a custody decision, judges consider a number of factors. Courts disfavor parents who actively try to interfere with or prevent their child's relationship with the other parent. Other factors include how well the parents are able to cooperate with one another in decision-making, their willingness to have custody of the child and how well the child gets along with the parent or siblings in the home. The judge will also consider whether there is any history of domestic violence or other abuse, the stability of the home environment and the child's safety.

If the court determines it is necessary, it will appoint a guardian ad litem for the child during the custody case to represent the child's interests in court and make custody recommendations to the judge. If parents are able to do so, they can reach a custody agreement through arbitration without leaving the decision up to the court. The judge will approve an agreement reached through arbitration so long as it is fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the child.

For good reason, child custody disputes can be highly emotional and difficult for both parents and children. People who are involved in a custody dispute may wish to seek the advice of a family law attorney who has experience in these matters.

Source: lawrev.state.nj.us, "Title 9-Custody", October 05, 2014

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