Divorcing parents in New Jersey are often so caught up in their own wishes and concerns that they fail to really consider how their marital dissolution will likely affect their children. For example, when considering custody matters and thinking about a parenting schedule, the adults and the family all too often make their own wishes their top priority and fight with one another over having as much time as possible with the kids.
They may fail to consider what the children would actually prefer given the situation. With that said, not every child is in a position to make informed choices about their preferences. As a result of these challenging realities, can children have the final say in New Jersey custody matters?
No, minor children can’t choose where to live
Parents have authority over children and young adults because minors usually do not yet have the ability to make decisions in their own best interests consistently. If parents cannot agree with one another about how to share time with their children, the child will not serve as a tiebreaker who can make the final decision.
In some cases, a judge will consider a child’s preferences when putting together a custody order and parenting plan. However, especially if a child wants to eliminate contact with one of their parents, a judge is unlikely to defer to their preferences and will instead try to put together a custody order and parenting plan that they believe upholds the best interests of the children.
Asking the children to choose can be a damaging mistake
Trying to put children in the middle of a custody disagreement between their parents will likely do far more harm than good. They may end up feeling like they have to choose between their parents and worried that they will damage the relationship with the parent that they don’t select. They may also be very anxious about needing to speak with a judge or in a courtroom.
New Jersey parents who recognize that their child’s preferences will likely have minimal impact on the outcome of their custody negotiations may be able to better shield their children from stress and unnecessary conflict during the divorce process. Familiarizing oneself with the rules that apply in a New Jersey divorce with the assistance of a legal professional can help people develop more pragmatic and compassionate approaches to complicated child custody issues.