When parents of younger children get divorced in New Jersey, custody decisions have to be made. At one time, mothers were far more likely to be favored in custody-related matters. Moms still tend to get more custody time, but there has been a noticeable shift over the years toward shared parenting arrangements. In fact, one study covering this topic shows that mothers were granted sole custody roughly 80% of the time in the early 1980s. Nearly 30 years later, mothers assumed full parenting duties about 40% of the time.
It’s increasingly common for courts to begin with a presumption of legal custody when addressing such matters. Physical custody, on the other hand, still favors mothers. This is largely because of a desire to maintain consistency with daily routines, such as where a child goes to school. Still, it’s rare for involved fathers to be completely kept out of the parenting loop today. Changes in attitudes about a father’s role in parenting, the liberalization of divorce laws, and more women joining the workforce are among the societal shifts that may have contributed to an increased preference for co-parenting arrangements.
it’s also not just divorcing dads seeking custody. Fathers who were never married are also increasingly looking to remain involved with their children’s lives. Wealthier dads and those formerly married to the mother are still more likely to fight for custody rights. However, unmarried dads without economic advantages also fare better today when seeking custody.
Courts are likely to encourage parents to make custody decisions through mediation. If some type of shared custody is agreed upon, a child custody attorney may be involved with the process of working out a mutually acceptable co-parenting plan. If sole custody is awarded, a lawyer could attempt to negotiate a fair visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent.