Can My Child Choose Which Parent to Live with During a New Jersey Divorce?
A divorce occurs between two spouses, but the children are also heavily affected. While property division and alimony are important, parents often care more about custody than any other aspect of their divorce. Each parent may believe that they are best-suited to act as the primary custodial guardian, but what about the children? Don’t they get to decide?
If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey and you are approaching a major custody battle, it makes sense to get in touch with a qualified family law attorney as soon as possible. Our legal professionals can help you strive for the best possible results in your divorce. While your child’s preference may play a role in the overall decision, it is just one of many factors that a judge may consider.
A Child Cannot Choose Their Parent in New Jersey
In many other states, children can choose which parent they wish to live with once they reach a certain age. But that is not the case in New Jersey. Technically speaking, a child has the right to choose their custodial parent when they turn 18. But since this is the age of majority in New Jersey, most children are no longer considered dependent minors when they turn 18. When they reach this age, all parental rights are transferred to the child, and they can essentially do whatever they want. So in reality, this New Jersey law is a moot point.
Not So Fast
But with all that said, a family court may still consider the wishes of a child during a custody trial. Some attorneys claim that it is an “unwritten rule” that a judge will listen to a child’s preferences with considerable seriousness after the age of 14. Even if the child is under the age of 14, a judge may consider their decision in addition to the other issues relevant to their best interests.
Other Factors to Consider
But there are many other factors that may be relevant in a custody battle. Your child’s preference still matters, even if they are far too young to actually express that opinion in court. For example, a parent has a much better chance of receiving primary physical custody if they spend more time with a child and learn more about their needs, desires, and hobbies. If you can show that you and your child clearly had a close bond during the marriage, then there may be no need for them to express their opinion.
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced family law attorney in New Jersey, look no further than Giro, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Over the years, we have helped numerous parents fight for their rights. We know that custody battles can seem incredibly daunting, but you can approach this undertaking with confidence after teaming up with a solid family law attorney. Book your consultation today and fight for your child’s best interests.