During a child custody battle in New Jersey, either parent can fight for sole custody. If the judge doesn’t think that joint custody is the right option, they’ll award custody to the parent who can provide the child with the best quality of life. However, the judge’s decision doesn’t always align with the child’s wishes.
What happens during a child custody case
Both parents can fight for child custody, but only one gets to be the custodial parent if a judge decides this is in the child’s best interest. However, this doesn’t mean that the matter is settled until the child turns 18. If you’re the non-custodial parent, your child might express their desire to live with you instead of your former spouse.
While a judge might take your child’s feelings into consideration, your child can’t make the final decision. The judge might not listen to your child at all if they believe that they’re too young to know what’s best for them. In some cases, the child might want to live with the non-custodial parent simply because they know they won’t be punished for misbehavior.
If your child is a teenager, the judge might take their preferences more seriously. However, the judge might also consider that the child wants to stay with the parent who has fewer rules. If you try to persuade your child to live with you instead of their other parent, the judge might reject the appeal on the basis of custodial interference.
Ultimately, your child doesn’t get to make their own custody decisions, but their preferences might make a difference in the case. You’ll likely want a family law attorney on your side to help you fight for full custody.
How can you protect your parental rights?
Every parent has the right to see their child even if they don’t win full custody. An attorney may be able to help you secure child custody or visitation rights and remain an important part of your child’s life. If the situation suddenly changes, you might need to fight for full custody to ensure that your child enjoys the best possible quality of life.