Divorce negotiations and settlement agreements involve more than financial decisions. A New Jersey family court may also rule on child custody. Whether deciding on joint or sole custody, the court looks at the best interests of the child. The divorcing spouses, however, might not understand what this term means. Ultimately, “best interests” refers to anything that supports the child’s well-being.
Examining the best interests of the child
The court looks at different factors to decide whether one parent’s abilities are better than the other. With younger children, a parent may need to provide more direct care. Even though a parent has the capabilities, the parents’ work schedule might make giving direct care harder.
The family law judge will also look at matters related to child safety. Someone who can provide a stable home and cover all necessary expenses, such as food and medical care, presents a financial safety net for the young one. Parents who are verbally or physically abusive or suffer from addictions might offer a very unsafe environment.
The court also examines the child’s routine. It may be in the child’s best interest to stay with a parent who allows the young one to attend the same school. Moving to a different neighborhood and having to make new friends could be a burden on the child.
Establishing best interests
Parents seeking custody of a child will need to present evidence in family court. A parent may need to do more than claim to be fit to care for the child. The parent would likely have to submit documentary evidence proving the claim.
Proving there is a strong relationship between parent and child may help. Copies of phone records and texts, for example, might reveal details about the relationship. Financial records could show a desire to best support the child.