Can Children Choose Where They Want to Live After a New Jersey Divorce?

When going through a divorce, one of the most sensitive matters is child custody. No parent wants to give up time with their children. In some custody cases, parents can work out agreements on their own with one another. Other times, the court may need to step in for assistance. During this time, many families may wonder if their child has the right to decide where and with whom they want to live. Continue reading below to learn more and contact an experienced New Jersey family law attorney for help with your case.

Does a Child Have the Right to Decide Which Parent to Live With?

When two parents get a divorce, it affects more than just the spouses, but their children as well. In these situations, children may wish to express their preference of who they want to live with. It is important to know that children under the age of 18 years old cannot absolutely decide which parent they want to live with. However, the court handles matters of family law on a case-by-case basis. This means they take the family’s circumstances into consideration. One of these considerations may be the child’s preference, depending on their age. While this is true, the judge is not required to rule in favor of this preference if they believe it is not in the child’s best interests. 

What Other Factors Are Considered to Determine Custody?

According to N.J.S.A. 9:2-4(c), New Jersey courts must make a decision regarding custody based on what is in the child’s best interests. In doing so, they consider the following additional factors: 

  • The parents’ ability to agree and collaborate on matters related to the child
  • The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time
  • The relationship of the child with their parent
  • Any history of domestic violence that may exist
  • The safety of the child
  • The needs of the child
  • The stability of the environment offered
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The fitness of the parents
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ houses
  • The extend and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or after the divorce
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities
  • The age and number of children 

Contact our Firm

If you require strong legal representation for matters related to divorce or family law, Haber Silver Simpson & Russoniello is here to help. We proudly represent clients in Morris County and throughout the state of New Jersey. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.