When there are children involved in a New Jersey divorce action, the end result will either be that the parents have joint custody or one parent has primary physical custody. Here is how a court will decide which parent gets primary custody if a judge chooses to award it.
The factors used
The court will look at all the activities of the child’s daily life. The judge will consider which parent predominantly helps the child in that activity. For example, the court may inquire which parent dresses the child in the morning and takes them to school. The court may also look at which parent cooks the meals and provides the discipline. In other words, the judge will take an inventory of the child’s life and each parent’s involvement.
How the court weighs the factors
The judge will generally look at the totality of the circumstances when they make their decision. Usually, it is the parent who handles most of the activities of daily life for the child who will get primary physical custody. Of course, the parents can avoid this part of the divorce process if they agree to share physical custody. However, if a parent does go to court for a hearing, they need to be prepared to document and show what they do in the child’s daily life.
If this is something that will go to a court hearing, you will need a child custody attorney to help make your case to the judge. The attorney may be able to argue why awarding you primary physical custody is in the child’s best interest. Custody hearings are intimidating for someone who is not familiar with the forum. An attorney could help you by compiling the best arguments for the court to consider.