What Is the Tender Years Doctrine?

The tender years doctrine is a legal principle family law courts used to determine custody. Under the tender years doctrine, courts granted mothers custody of young children without considering the many factors they consider today. Courts—and society at large—saw mothers as the natural family caregiver, and the tender years doctrine supported that belief. As a result, courts sometimes placed children with unfit mothers and denied fathers custody unfairly.

Changing Times

Today, the tender years doctrine doesn’t hold the same influence over custody cases in New Jersey. It’s widely recognized as an outdated approach to custody determinations. Another legal principle has taken its place and that is the best interests of the child. Courts will determine custody based on what is in the best interests of the child, which is the overarching factor that takes precedence over all else.

Both mother and father start out on equal footing. The court will decide on custody after considering several factors such as which parent can best meet the child’s needs and who has been the child’s primary caretaker. In some New Jersey households, mothers serve as the primary caretaker of the child while they are very young. The court doesn’t automatically grant the primary caretaker custody, but this is an important factor, especially for very young children. Rather, the court takes a holistic approach to determining custody. In some cases, both parents will share custody. It really depends on what the child’s needs are and who can best meet them, among other factors.

Demonstrating What Is in Your Child’s Best Interests

The court will consider many factors when deciding on custody, so you should learn about those factors and how they can affect your case. Speak with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney if you are in a custody dispute. If you want custody of your child, you will need to demonstrate it is in his or her best interests. While you may feel strongly that it is, you will need to find a way to prove this to the court. This is where an attorney can help. An attorney can advise you of how custody cases are decided and help you present a compelling argument so you can get custody of your child.

If you have questions about getting custody of your child, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced child custody attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can ensure your child’s best interests are protected. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 738-8404, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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