Do New Jersey Courts Favor Mothers Over Fathers?
One of the most contentious issues during a divorce is child custody. If you and your child’s other parent are getting a divorce, the issue of child custody is likely causing tension between the two of you. As the father, you are likely feeling anxious and worried because you have heard that New Jersey courts usually favor mothers over fathers when it comes to child custody. This is a popular myth about child custody, and it is important that we dispel it. It is not true that New Jersey courts favor mothers over fathers. New Jersey courts make child custody decisions based on what’s in the child’s best interest.
Where Does the Belief That Courts Favor Mothers Over Fathers Come From?
Years ago, it was not a myth that courts favored mothers over fathers. Instead, it was a fact. Long ago, parenting was the mother’s duty. During a divorce, there was usually no doubt that the mother would get custody of the children. Men did not even seek custody of a child. And even in rare cases where a father sought custody of a child, the court ruled in favor of the mother.
There was also a popular doctrine called the Tender Years Doctrine that was used in child custody cases in all states in the U.S., including New Jersey. Under this doctrine, courts granted custody of young children (four years and under) only to mothers, as mothers were considered to be best equipped to meet the children’s needs. Courts granted custody of young children to mothers without considering the many factors they consider today.
The Tender Years Doctrine was scrapped off decades ago after it was considered unconstitutional in some courts. However, it may be argued that this doctrine still influences the outcome of child custody cases today. But even if courts still give weight to the Tender Years Doctrine, the fact is that courts look at many different factors before deciding who gets custody of a child. Courts make child custody decisions based on what is in the child’s best interest.
What Is the Meaning of “The Best Interests of a Child”?
As stated already, New Jersey courts make child custody decisions based on the child’s best interest. But what exactly constitutes a child’s best interests? What constitutes a child’s best interests varies from case to case. So what is best for another child might not be best for your child.
When determining what’s in a child’s best interest, New Jersey courts consider several factors as provided by law. The following are some of the factors New Jersey courts consider when determining what’s in the best interest of a child;
- The child’s parents’ ability to communicate, collaborate and agree in matters relating to their child.
- How the child interacts with the parents and siblings
- The child’s preference (if the child has the intellectual ability to make an intelligent decision)
- Any history of domestic violence
- The child’s needs
- The parents’ fitness to exercise custody
- The stability of the child’s home environment
- The child’s and either parent’s safety from abuse by the other parent
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you have questions about child custody in New Jersey or any other family law-related matter, contact a qualified New Jersey family lawyer at Citizen Soldier Law.