When you decided to end your relationship, you may have made an agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse that you would put aside your differences in order to co-parent. You and the other parent may be working toward developing a custody agreement and parenting plan that will work best for your children and for the two of you as well.
However, do you know if your plan will meet with the approval of a New Jersey family court? The judge wants to ensure that your agreement serves the best interest of your children. While it is true that you can create any agreement that you want, if it fails to meet that threshold in the eyes of a judge, you may get sent back to try again.
What do judges look for in custody agreements?
In order to assess whether your custody plan serves the best interests of your children, the court looks at the following factors:
- The children’s ages
- The parent/child relationship
- The number of children
- The distance between parents’ homes
- The stability of each home
- The fitness of each parent
- The parental communication
- The preferences of each child, if old enough
- The needs of each child
The court will also consider whether any domestic violence issues exist, especially if allegedly perpetrated by a parent.
Create your own agreement
Fortunately, New Jersey family courts support joint custody and co-parenting arrangements. The belief is that best serving the children’s interests involves both parents remaining active in their lives. Ideally, parents would work together and make decisions regarding the welfare and well-beings of the children together. This process could easily begin with negotiations to determine the best arrangements for continuing to raise the children together, providing them with stability and security and making the transition as smooth as possible for them.
Keeping these factors in mind, you and the other parent may create your own parenting plan and custody agreement. You know your children and the other parent better than the court, and that means that you may find a solution that works best for your family. Otherwise, if the court makes the decisions for you and the other parent, you may not get the type of agreement you envisioned or that will benefit your family now or in the future.
Since the best interests of your children remain your top priority, it may help to obtain some advice and guidance regarding the preparation of your plan and obtaining the approval of the court.