The subject of custody may be litigated in the Family Court if there is no pending action for divorce or if such a divorce action is ongoing, then custody will be determined by the Supreme Court. The Court’s main objective when dealing with the issue of custody is to make a determination as to what is in the best interests of the child. Unless there are safety concerns, the Court always seeks to encourage both parents to remain active in the life of the child. The Court will look at the following factors:
Which parent has been the child’s primary caretaker.
The quality of each parent’s home environment.
The parenting skills of each parent
The mental and physical health of the parents, including whether either parent drinks or uses drugs.
Whether there has been domestic violence in the family and who has been the source of this violence.
The work schedules and child care plans of each parent.
The child’s relationship with siblings.
Depending on the child’s age, the Court will consider the child’s preference.
SOLE CUSTODY vs. JOINT CUSTODY
With sole custody, one parent makes all of the major decisions for the child. With joint custody, both parents are permitted to make major decisions regarding the child. There are also numerous variations when dealing with the subject of custody. Often the parties will have Joint Custody however the child will reside with one party with the other having specified visitation. Moreover, one party can have sole custody but the other maintains a specified schedule of visitation which involves sleep-overs, holidays and vacations. Each family is unique and care must be taken to seek a resolution that is fair to all parties and in the best interests of the child.
Visitation issues may be litigated in the Family Court if there is no pending action for divorce or if such a divorce action is ongoing, then visitation will be determined by the Supreme Court. Again unless there are safety concerns, the Court’s goal is to promote the parent/child relationship. Often one party will have residential custody of the child and the other parent will have visitation on a schedule that is negotiated. If you fear for the safety of your child due to drug or alcohol use by the other parent, you may wish to seek supervised visitation.
Our family law attorneys at Guttmann & Kellner P.C. have three decades of trial experience. We are skilled in negotiation however it takes two parties to make a deal. If the adverse parent refuses to be reasonable, then you can count on our experience as Trial Attorneys to be by your side.