Divorce is a painful, often embarrassing subject for everyone involved. Once the decision has been reached to cut ties with a loved one, drawing out the process in a long and argumentative divorce only worsens the already strained relationship. If the separated couple had children together, the strain becomes even stronger. With these impending difficulties in mind, knowledge of the trends in divorce and family law can help families prepare for their next steps during this unpredictable time. Here are a few insights from top divorce attorneys in New Jersey on this subject matter.
States are becoming less and less predictable when awarding child custody to parents. While the old trend would indicate that mothers were more likely to gain custody of children, regardless of the child’s gender, this phenomenon is changing rapidly in today’s modern society. Child placement is becoming steadily more gender neutral, with no guaranteed outcome of where or with whom the children will be housed. This can be especially challenging for children when their lives have suddenly become quite different than they were used to. As such, parents should present a united front for their children, and avoid giving them conflicting or condemning information about the other parent. The best outcome, as deemed by a judge will be based on which parent is most fit to assume custody, again for the well-being of the child(ren) in question.
After a divorce, children often experience conflicting expectations at their two new households. One parent may allow different behaviors than the other, which can become confusing for a child switching between houses. Divorce attorneys in New Jersey will often recommend co-parenting, where the divorced parents work together to parent the child. In this way, some aspects of the child’s life will remain consistent. This ensures that both parents are meeting all rearing needs the child has.
For many families, custody arrangements are often trial-and-error. If one parent needs to move for a job or change housing, this can often affect a child who is accustomed to living in a certain place or attending a certain school. In such instances, the agreed-upon custody arrangement may need to be amended to reflect these new circumstances. A new negotiation of custody, especially for parents who do not get along following the divorce, may require consulting a family law attorney near you. In many states, intentionally interfering with the other parent’s custody time is a punishable offense in court, and could harm the child’s relationship with their other parent. Difficult custody negotiations could unintentionally result in alienating a child from one of their parents, a misstep to be avoided at all costs.
Though the primary responsibility for raising children falls on the child’s parents, in many cases this may be an unachievable ideal. In such instances, relatives may participate in raising the child, or the child might be relocated if their caregivers are unable to take proper care of them. Instances in which a child could be moved include but are not limited to abuse, neglect, the death of a parent, a parent’s substance abuse, domestic violence, incarceration, mental health issues, military deployment, or chronic health issues. In such cases, a decision of the child’s housing should be in the child’s best interest. A family law attorney near you can help decide or suggest options that the family may not have considered.
In instances where the child is over 14 years old, in most states, the child in question may have his or her own legal representation. While the child does not physically appear in court, the guardian ad litem can speak on behalf of the child and clarify the child’s wishes directly to the judge. This option is often considered when the divorce includes a custody battle and the child has strong wishes about which parent he or she wishes to live with.
Even the most amiable divorces are difficult for everyone involved, including for any children involved. Consulting with a family law attorney near you can help ease the pain of this separation and ensure that all parties are fairly represented and as happy as possible when adjusting to their new lives.