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Primary caretakers and child custody

As New Jersey parents see their marriages coming to an end, they might wonder about how custody issues will be decided by a judge. One of the leading factors contributing to a decision about primary custody can be the pattern already established in a family. The value of the primary caretaker's role in the child's life can be linked to psychological stability, which can influence a judge's decision.

There can be situations in which a primary caretaker can be harder to identify. Such situations may arise as both parents work outside the home and take turns handling oversight of homework, grooming, health care and other essential activities. In some cases, a mother may be primarily responsible for these matters, but today, more fathers are taking on the role of primary caretaker because of a spouse's career activities and goals. The patterns can influence child custody decisions because the ability to maintain familiar routines and activities could help a child during the transition following a divorce.

judge will typically act with the child's best interests in mind. This could include a decision not to award physical custody to a primary caretaker because of poor health, legal problems, or negative behaviors. There are also alternatives to having a judge make these decisions for those who can cooperate while working on a parenting plan. Parents who can minimize the antagonism during the process of divorce may be able to protect their child from excessive emotional turmoil in the process.

A contentious divorce can lead to putting the decisions about child custody in the hands of a judge. However, an agreement reached through negotiations or mediation could save a lot of time and money. A lawyer should evaluate an agreement to ensure that it is legally binding and that it says what a client believes it to say.

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