• New Jersey Dads are Winning Custody
  • December 19, 2013
  • Law Firm: The Micklin Law Group - Nutley Office
  • New Jersey Dads are Winning Custody Battles

    For many years, it was not a surprise during a custody battle when the mother succeeded in gaining legal and physical custody of the children, but this is changing. Today, a father who wants to remain part of his children’s lives through full or shared custody is winning these rights throughout New Jersey and the rest of the country.

    Under New Jersey law, the court will look at a series of factors to determine how the custody arrangement will be settled in the best interest of the child. Pursuant to N.J.S.A.9:2-4(c), the judge will consider:

    • How many children there are, and how old they are;
    • The parents’ employment statuses and what the work demands are on each parent;
    • How much time the parents each spent with the children prior to the divorce;
    • How close the parents live to each other after the divorce;
    • The physical and emotional fitness of the parents;
    • How the custody arrangement will impact the children’s education;
    • What type of home environment will be offered;
    • What are the specific needs of each child;
    • If the child is old enough, what is the preference of the child;
    • The relationship of the child with each parent and any siblings who might reside in the home;
    • How well the parents communicate with each other about the issues that relate to the child;
    • Whether there is any history of a parent interfering with the visitation of the other without any legitimate reason, such as substantiated allegations of abuse;
    • Whether the safety of the child has ever been jeopardized by abuse from anyone living in the home; and
    • Whether there is a history of domestic abuse.

    These are the factors that a court will consider, but there are things that a father can do to increase his odds of obtaining custody. It is true that the perception that the mother will be the best parent is changing, but there still are biases out there. If you have always been a father who was involved in the daily activities of your children, then you are in good shape. Here are some suggestions to improve your odds of remaining a large part of your child’s life:

    1. Assert your desire to have shared or full custody or significant visitation from the very beginning. Do not presume that you will get your chance to voice your wish for regular contact later in the process. Be clear about what you want from the very beginning. You should take steps to show the court that you know how much care your child will require and are prepared to meet those needs.
    2. Never discuss child care as part of the custody discussions. This will confuse the issue and may convince the court that you are more concerned with reducing payments then spending time with your child.
    3. Be clear about how the schedule will impact the child. Putting this down on paper may bring gaps to the attention of all parties and the visitation or custody can be revised to be fairer for everyone.
    4. Develop an amicable relationship with your child’s mother. Often, this is very difficult because of the emotions that surround this type of situation, but you two are going to co-parent your child(ren) and it is critical to establish the best possible relationship.
    5. Find an attorney who is prepared to fight for the rights of the father. There still are old-school attorneys who erroneously believe that the children are better off with their mothers. Sit down and ask some hard questions, you want to be certain that you have an attorney who will do everything possible to maximize the time that you spend with your children.
    Judges are more and more inclined to accept the fact that the best interest of the child means having regular, significant contact with his or her father. Therefore, more custody agreements are splitting time between both parents and awarding custody to the father if the circumstances support that decision.