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Can a Child Choose the Parent They Want to Live With After a New Jersey Divorce?

One of the most sensitive matters in New Jersey divorce proceedings is that of child custody. No parent ever wants to be without their child. There are many divorce cases in which parents are able to work together in order to reach decisions regarding custody. In the event that they cannot, the court may decide for them. However, a common question that is asked during this time may be: can the child decide which parent they want to live with? Continue reading below to learn more and contact an experienced New Jersey family law attorney for assistance with your case.

Does a Child Have the Right to Decide Which Parent to Live With?

Divorce does not only impact the two spouses involved in the case. If they have children, the proceedings and the results will affect them differently. It is because of this that a child may wish to choose the parent they want to live with. However, in the state of New Jersey, a child cannot absolutely decide where they want to live until they are 18 years of age. 

While this is true, it is important to be aware that the court handles these matters on a case-by-case basis. This means they will take each family’s personal situation into account to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Depending on the child’s age, the judge may take the child’s preference into consideration when determining what is in their best interest. However, if the child is under 18, the judge is not bound to this preference if they believe it is not in the child’s best interests. 

What Other Factors Are Considered to Determine Custody?

According to N.J.S.A. 9:2-4(c), courts in New Jersey are required to consider the following additional factors when determining what is in the best interest of a child during a custody case:

  • The parents’ ability to agree and collaborate on matters related to the child
  • The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time
  • The relationship of the child with their parent
  • Any history of domestic violence that may exist
  • The safety of the child
  • The needs of the child
  • The stability of the environment offered
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The fitness of the parents
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ houses
  • The extend and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or after the divorce
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities
  • The age and number of children 

Contact our Firm

If you need an experienced legal team to guide you through your divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C today.