When getting divorced in New Jersey, there are certain actions that parents should avoid if they are fighting for any amount of child custody. It is generally considered to be in the best interests of the child for the child to have time with both parents, but a judge can limit or prohibit a parent’s interactions with the child if the parent behaves badly.
A judge will very likely limit child custody time if he or she believes that a parent is trying to kidnap the child. If one parent takes the child out of town without notifying the other parent, this could appear to be an attempted kidnapping, which could result in a termination or restriction of custody rights. Another action to avoid is taking a child out of school or daycare without notifying the other parent.
Judges are highly unlikely to grant solo custody time to a parent who has a history of violence or abuse, even if no physical action was ever directed toward the child. Parents with no history of physical abuse could still be at risk of custody restrictions if they show signs of aggression, like damaging property.
Parents may have their child custody time limited if they fail to pay child support owed to the other parent. Child support payments are of great importance to the courts, and a failure to adhere to a court’s order could even result in jail time. Even if a court has not yet ordered one parent to pay child support, a parent who voluntarily gives the ex-spouse money for child support should keep a clear record of those payments.
Parents also need to watch their behavior while in court and in front of their children. Bad-mouthing the other parent is not healthy for the children and can reflect poorly on someone’s parenting. A family law attorney may be of assistance with creating a custody schedule or advocating for a parent in the courtroom, but parents should also be mindful their own actions at home.