Brad Micklin, a family lawyer in Nutley, answers:
No, you do not have to wait to resolve your child custody issues. Parents who are going through divorce proceedings may agree to a parenting plan addressing the issues of the care, custody, maintenance, and education of children. Courts will accept the plan agreed upon by the parties unless the court finds it is not in the best interests of the child. An experienced family law attorney will be able to assist in the drafting of a parenting time plan that both meets the needs of the child and is in the child’s best interests.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the court will determine custody by considering the following factors:
- The expressed wishes of the parents as to custody of the child.
- The parents’ willingness to communicate and cooperate with each other.
- The parents’ willingness to accept custody of the child.
- Whether or not there has been a problem with a parent preventing parenting time to occur (without just cause, such as abuse).
- The history of care of the child.
- The child’s relationships with each parent and any siblings.
- The proximity of the parents’ homes.
- The child’s educational needs.
- The parents’ employment responsibilities.
- The fitness of each parent.
- The safety and security of the proposed homes.
- Whether or not each parent is able to meet the needs of the child.
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse.
- The number of children the parents have.
- The age of the child.
- The wishes of the child if the child is mature enough and desires to voice an educated opinion.
Brad Micklin is a family lawyer in Nutley, NJ.