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How can domestic violence impact child custody cases in New Jersey?

Unfortunately, in today’s society, many couples deal with the issue of domestic violence. Many believe that domestic violence only occurs when one partner physically harms the other. However, mental and emotional abuse is also classified as domestic violence. More often than not domestic violence leads to divorce. When a couple seeking a divorce has children, they must reach a mutual agreement on custody. Child custody is a commonly contested issue, which is why the custody decision often falls into a judge’s lap. To determine a custody agreement, the court will examine several factors. However, the primary factor courts take into account is the best interest of a child. The court values protecting the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of a child. With that being said, many wonder whether domestic violence can impact a custody determination. This is because as well as affecting individuals in a relationship, domestic violence negatively affects children as well. Please continue to follow along to learn whether domestic violence can impact a custody determination and how our trusted Morris County NJ Child Custody Attorneys can help you today. 

How does domestic violence impact a custody determination in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, a judge can award joint (shared) or sole custody of a child. Oftentimes, a judge will try to award joint custody because it is believed that it is in the best interest to benefit from having a relationship with both parents. However, in some cases, this kind of custody is not in a child’s best interest. A judge is required to consider a long list of factors to determine what type of custody award is in the child’s best interest. Some of the factors include but are not limited to:

  • The child’s relationship with both parents
  • The needs of the child
  • The stability of each parent’s home environment
  • The fitness of each parent
  • The age and number of children
  • Each parent’s income and employment responsibilities
  • Any history of domestic violence or child abuse

The above-listed are only some of the factors the court must take into account when determining a custody award. As shown, domestic violence is taken into account alongside several other factors. Generally, if one parent has committed domestic abuse, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot be awarded custody. It may, however, be warranted in extreme circumstances for the court to award sole custody rather than joint custody if the court believes the child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being would be at risk. Domestic violence is not the only factor taken into account. However, it could cause a judge to order limited or supervised visitations. Essentially, domestic violence could impact whether you are awarded custody or parenting time.

If you have valid reasoning to believe your child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being would be in imminent danger if your partner who has committed domestic violence was awarded custody or parenting time, contact our adept attorneys. We are committed to helping our clients reach a custody agreement that values the best interests of their children.