Unsuitable Parents – Fight for Sole Custody

Parents work hard to make sure they can provide safety and stability for their children.  This can be complicated and difficult even when the parents are in a committed relationship.  If it happens that the parents’ relationship disintegrates, it often becomes more complicated to effectively co-parent.  In the best of situations, the parents are both good parents and will put their differences aside to pull together for what is in the children’s best interest.  Unfortunately, there are times when one of the parents is unsuitable.  In those cases, it may be necessary to fight for sole custody.

Under New Jersey statute 9.2-4, the court is directed to make an order that awards joint custody to the parents, sole custody with appropriate parenting time to the noncustodial parent, or “any other custody arrangement as the court may determine to be in the best interests of the child.”  The statute lists several factors the court may consider when making an award of custody, including issues such as the parents’ ability to communicate and cooperate, the preference of the child, and the stability of the home.  There are also some more pressing issues, such as the history of domestic violence in the relationship, and keeping the child safe from a risk of physical abuse.  If a parent can be deemed “unfit,” then the court may make a decision that he or she will not have joint custody.  The statute does specifically state, however, that a “parent shall not be deemed unfit unless the parents’ conduct has a substantial adverse effect on the child.”  In other words, a parent may fail to live up to the requirements that he or she is cooperative or as stable as the other parent, but this will not mean that the parent will automatically be deemed unfit.  The type of “unfitness” that the court is looking for when making an award of sole custody is the type of behavior from a parent that puts a child’s physical or emotional well-being in jeopardy.  Behavior such as domestic violence, persistent substance abuse, or exposing the children to totally unsuitable individuals (such as registered sex offenders) would be the type of behavior that could result in sole custody.  A parent consistently refusing parenting time or disobeying the court’s orders can also result in an award of sole custody.

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We have helped many clients in deciding how to approach a custody case when the other parent is unsuitable or unstable.  Contact us today for a consultation to talk about your children and your family.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us atinfo@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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