Figuring out where your child will live and who will make decisions for them when you separate or divorce the other parent can be a painful process. It can be especially difficult to navigate if you have the following misconceptions about child custody cases.
Misconception: It’s all up to a judge
Assuming custody decisions are entirely in the hands of a judge might make you feel scared and angry. It could make you feel like you and your ex will be battling against each other, trying to “win.”
However, in reality, some statistics suggest that parties resolve as many as 90 percent of child custody cases without court intervention.
In other words, in most cases, parents will make custody-related decisions themselves outside of court. Often, parties accomplish this with the help of mediators, counselors and attorneys. While the courts must approve an order, parents can typically expect to make custody agreements themselves.
Misconception: Custody is all or nothing
Some people see custody as a single thing to be won or lost. They might believe they lose all their parental rights if they don’t get custody.
But in reality, there are different types of custody in New Jersey: physical and legal. Physical custody is where a child lives, and legal custody is who has the right to make decisions for a child. Parents often share one or both types of custody.
While there are situations where a parent might lose all their parental rights or when one parent has sole physical and legal custody, these are much less common than situations where parents share custody in some shape or form.
Misconception: Courts always favor mothers
It used to be widely believed that mothers were always best suited to be a child’s primary (and sometimes sole) caregiver after divorce or separation. However, assuming this now could give mothers a false sense of security and make fathers feel distraught.
But the fact is that New Jersey laws specify that both parents should have frequent and continuing contact with their children after divorce when such an arrangement is in a child’s best interests.
Making informed decisions
It is crucial to get the facts about your rights and options regarding child custody matters. Doing so can help you make informed decisions that help you reach satisfactory outcomes.