For many divorcing couples, custody of the minor children from the marriage is the most contentious and emotional issue. Both parents likely want to spend as much time as possible with their children. This can make compromising about custody difficult. What spouses can’t come to an agreement on their own about custody, support and parenting time, the courts will step in to ensure everything gets handled properly.

For divorcing parents, not knowing what the custody outcome of your divorce will be is nerve-wracking. It’s all too easy to find horror stories online, telling of doting parents denied shared custody or even visitation. You could start to worry that you won’t get to see your children at all. In most cases, barring an inability to provide for your kids, a history of abuse or neglect, or issues with chemical dependence, shared custody is the most likely outcome to a custody dispute in divorce.

New Jersey courts aim for the best interests of the children

When a judge is reviewing information in a custody case, a lot of information can have an influence. The child’s opinion, if he or she is old enough, could sway a judge to assign primary custody to one parent. In other cases, the existing relationship between the parents and children, the ability of each parent to provide for and positively interact with the children and any special needs of the children will also matter. The judge will work to find a solution in the best interest of the children, which typically means shared custody and an ongoing relationship with both parents.

Generally speaking, a judge will create an order that divides parenting time and responsibilities between both parents. This is called a parenting plan, and it will typically address everything from holidays to summer vacation. However, if one parent refuses to comply with custody exchanges, parenting time or other aspects of the parenting plan, this could result in a change to the original custody arrangements.

Learning to share custody can build your case

Demonstrating that you will put the needs and well-being of your children above your own feelings during and after a divorce can demonstrate to the courts that you are a loving and dedicated parent. Conversely, refusing to work with your ex could cause a host of issues and a negative perception about your priorities that could impact the final custody decision.

It’s also important to keep in mind that a lot of anger and negativity between you and your spouse during the divorce can have a powerful impact on your children. You should do everything in your power to shield your children from adult issues and disagreements during a divorce. This includes encouraging the children to maintain a happy and healthy relationship with their other parent, except in cases where this could put the children in danger.