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New law in New Jersey helps military parents with child custody

For many parents, dealing with child custody and visitation can be very stressful for the children and the parents. Often, there are difficult decisions to be made. Courts have to consider several factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child. This determination becomes further complicated when one of the parents serves in the military and has to spend significant periods of time away from their children while deployed. While a military parent's deployment used to be used against the parent in making child custody and visitation decisions, in New Jersey, that is no longer the case.

A new law was recently signed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie which could have a significant positive effect on the parental rights of military parents. According to the new law, the courts must still determine what is in the best interests of the child when deciding on child custody and visitation arrangements, however, the courts may no longer use a parents' military deployment absence against them when weighing the factors. The law is important to parents serving in the military because it will help ensure that they are able to remain in contact with their children, whether by email and video chat or by more traditional forms of communication such as telephone calls.

When making child custody and visitation determinations, the courts will base their decisions on what is in the best interests of the child. The courts do so by considering a number of factors, such as what the child prefers, the health of the parents and whether or not the child will have to relocate to a new school and how the child will adjust to such a change. Courts will also look at the child's relationships with siblings and other family members and how it might affect the child if those relationships change. Also, instances of child or domestic abuse will be considered as well.

In general, it is usually in the child's best interests to spend time with each parent, whether in person or through other means of communication. The new law in New Jersey may help children with parents in the military do just that, by giving the parents a fair opportunity in court to be awarded visitation rights while they are deployed.

Source: The Sand Paper, "Gov. Signs Connors-Rumpf-Gove Bill Concerning Child Custody Arrangements for Military Personnel," Jan. 31, 2013

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