At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?
Children’s Rights vs. Parental Rights Attorneys Ocean and Monmouth County NJ
Serving Families in Ocean and Monmouth County towns including Toms River, Wall, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and Brick, NJ
New Jersey child custody laws try to assure that in divorce, civil union dissolution, and unmarried parents child custody cases, that “the best interests of the child” are considered. This basic concept provides NJ Family Courts with the parameters and flexibility in making the most appropriate decisions regarding a child’s placement. As each family situation is unique and because no two cases are exactly alike, and although what constitutes a child’s best interest can vary from case to case, New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds the wellbeing of the child at the center of all negotiations in divorce and custody hearings.
Because divorce and custody issues can be emotionally charged experiences for a young child, which can leave a lasting impression on someone suddenly thrust into a very maturely adult process, many parents, as well as courts, are reluctant to involve a child in their decision-making process.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, we are ideally equipped to help you answer tough family-related questions like, “Who will my child live with? What will my relationship with my child look like? and Who gets to decide what is in my child’s best interest?” We understand how to identify each client’s unique concerns and needs when deciding on child custody and craft a plan of action that is in the best interest of our clients and their children. Having fought for – and won – favorable child custody resolutions for clients in Ocean County, Brick, Jackson, Toms River, Point Pleasant, and the surrounding areas, The Bronzino Law Firm is ready and willing to help you too.
Call our office today for a free and confidential consultation regarding your questions and concerns and discuss how we can best serve your needs.
How Does a NJ Child’s Age Factors into Their Ability to Choose Which Parent to Live With?
Divorce and parental separation will affect each child differently. By recognizing each child’s difference and the need to treat them as individuals, this awareness can also help parents understand their child’s ability to participate in deciding which parental figure to live with.
“Sufficient age and capacity” is not defined by law in NJ. Therefore, a child under age 8 is presumptively incapable of expressing a preference. However, the Family Court trial judge will conduct a private interview with the child, using each parent’s questions and the judge’s own. When interviewing children between the ages of 8 and 17, most judges take the child’s version of facts seriously. Using their judicial discretion, they will seek to accommodate the child’s stated wishes if possible.
Although there is no hard and fast age that a child can choose to live with a given parent in NJ, according to state law, a child cannot absolutely decide which parent to live with until they turn 18. Before that age, a judge will pay close attention to the child’s stated parental living arrangement preferences and base their finding on their best interests.
NJ Children’s Bill of Rights: Can a Child Refuse to Visit their Non-custodial Parent?
The New Jersey Children’s Bill of Rights outlines children’s rights and what they should expect from their parents when the marital relationship ends. A child’s Bill of Rights has often been incorporated into the divorce decree and post-judgment agreements in many cases. Experienced family lawyers see the NJ Children’s Bill of Rights as a key way to ensure that parents understand that their child(ren) should always be their priority while co-parenting.
Your child should have adequate visitation with both parents and should never be denied those visits because of a disagreement between you and your high-conflict co-parent. Even if it is not the child’s desire, each parent has the right to visitation with their child.
A child’s persistent refusal to engage in parenting time with one of the parents can be a strong indicator that something has gone substantially wrong within the family unit and could be a sign of parental alienation. With the support of an experienced family lawyer, a judge may insist on some mental health intervention: a child custody and parenting time forensic evaluation, child therapy, child-centered therapy, family therapy, custody/parenting time mediation, divorce coach, parenting coordinator, parental therapy (individual or otherwise).
Therapy can play a vital role in unlocking your child’s emotional doors, help the child better understand their conflicted feelings, and can support a healthy long-term solution to various family relationship problems.
Contact a Child Custody Attorney with Offices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ
Child custody attorney Peter J. Bronzino understands that custody hearings can be incredibly stressful. We take pride in mitigating the legal process’s many stresses while protecting our clients’ legal rights throughout Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Wall, Point Pleasant, Silverton, Toms River, Brick, Ocean, and Monmouth Counties. Lean on our extensive experience to secure an amicable and fair child custody agreement whether you are going through a divorce, civil union dissolution, annulment, or are unmarried parents. Attorney Bronzino works hard to reach civil resolutions to family law disputes but will not hesitate to litigate when necessary aggressively.