The “best interest of the child” is the prevailing standard across the United States for custody arrangements. However, family law differs from state to state, and New Jersey has its own theories on child custody cases that are distinct from other jurisdictions.
For example, some states presume that it is in the child’s best interests to give primary custody to the parent who acted as the caregiver for the longest amount of time. Other states place more value in which parent is most emotionally fit to care for the child.
If you are a parent filing for divorce in Short Hills, it is important to understand the legal statutes and proceedings that may affect your child custody case. A well-practiced attorney can guide you through the local court systems and provide further insight on child custody laws in Short Hills.
Rules of evidence dictate how certain information can be introduced and how much the court will rely on experts in a given child custody case. These guidelines can vary across jurisdictions. Some courts appoint an expert who presents a presumptive piece of information to be considered.
In our area, the court could appoint an expert, a party may retain a private expert, or the case could be presented by a combination of joint experts. All of these options are viable under New Jersey law for the purposes of giving information to the court.
Family law is fact-specific, and its application in child custody cases varies depending on the judge deciding the matters as well as any third parties that may be involved. A mediator or arbitrator can provide an opinion as to which party should be given primary custody or increased visitation time based on expert witness testimony. Experts may provide information that they collect through various means, such as:
A mediator or arbitrator may draw certain conclusions based on the facts presented by the experts. Divorcing parents must go through mandatory meetings with a neutral third party as part of the New Jersey marriage dissolution process, but they may also seek additional mediation services for dealing with child custody issues. A Short Hills attorney could advise parents on their options for alternative dispute resolution and explain the relevant laws that may affect their custody case.
Emancipation refers to the termination of legal custody. In theory, this involves a child acting outside their parents’ sphere of influence. Under New Jersey statutes, emancipation arguably takes place when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs second. In other words, if a child is 18 and is still in high school, they remain unemancipated until they graduate. Emancipation could occur when a child moves out of their parents’ home, obtains full time employment, or has their own child. Further, if a child continues in higher education and attends college full time after graduation from high school, emancipation would not occur until the child graduates from college or secondary education.
As a legal status change to child custody, the emancipation event must be brought before the court or must mutually be agreed upon between the parties. A consent order for emancipation terminates all legal responsibilities of custody over an unemancipated minor, including child support and potentially educational contributions.
Without the instruction and guidance of an experienced lawyer, parents often make critical mistakes trying to prove their claims for custody. A legal professional at our firm could advise you on effectively asserting your parental rights and explain your legal options.
If you wish to learn more about child custody laws in Short Hills, our knowledgeable family lawyers are here to help. Contact our firm to learn how your case can benefit from our legal experience.