Sole custody explained

Child custody is a complicated topic and knowing your rights as a parent is important when confronting this issue. In times when a parent is deemed “unfit” by a New Jersey court, the fit parent may be awarded sole custody. In these cases, evidence related to the negative impact of one parent’s behavior can sway a court to revoke some or all of their parental rights to protect the child. The court will always determine custody based on what is in the “best interest” of the child. New Jersey considers fourteen factors to determine custody. These include:

  • Whether or not the parents can agree on matters related to the child
  • Parent’s willingness to accept custody and visitation
  • The relationship between the child and his/her parents
  • Whether or not there has been a history of domestic violence
  • Whether or not the child is safe from any physical abuse from the parent
  • The child’s preference of which parent they would prefer to have custody, depending on their age and ability to make informed decisions
  • Which parent is better suited to take care of any of a child’s special needs
  • Which parent can provide the child with a stable home environment
  • The child’s education
  • Whether or not the parents are fit to care for the child
  • Proximity of the location of each parent’s home
  • The amount of time the child has spent with each parent before and after the divorce
  • Employment status of the parents
  • How old the children are and how many children there are

After examining these factors, the court may decide that sole custody is the best option. Even in cases of sole custody, New Jersey courts believe that the non-custodial parent should continue to have the chance to change their ways and become the parent their child deserves through a structured visitation arrangement. Whether that is supervised or unsupervised, it will be decided at the discretion of the court. The court understands that it is beneficial for a child to have a relationship with both of his/her parents but one parent may only be suited to have visits with the child. This can still result in a meaningful relationship between the “unfit” parent and the child.