If the parents are unable to reach an agreement on custody and parenting time, they will be required to attend custody and parenting time mediation with the court staff in the county in which they have filed for divorce. Only the parties attend this mediation, not their attorneys. If said mediation is unsuccessful, they have the right to jointly or independently hire a psychologist to perform a custody evaluation, which typically involves interviewing the parties, conducting psychological testing, interviewing the children with and without the parents, and interviewing collaterals (schools, doctors, teachers, etc.) before issuing a formal written report. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the Court may also appoint a custody evaluator. These evaluations are very lengthy (sometimes taking six months or as long as eighteen months) and extremely expensive. Moreover, the parents are divesting control of decision making regarding their children to a third party, who may not appreciate what is in the child’s best interests. However, if the parties are unable to agree, this is a likely course of action.
In New Jersey, custody is determined by statute which sets forth specific factors for consideration of what is in the child’s best interests.
In making a custody determination, there are a number of mandatory factors that the Legislature has directed the Court to consider, such as:
Custody and parenting time are often the most difficult issues to navigate. It is imperative that you express to your attorney your preferences and enact a plan of action.
Diana N. Fredericks, a family law attorney at Gebhardt & Kiefer, P.C. Diana works with clients whose needs lie in all areas of matrimonial and family law.Back To Top