Same sex marriage has been legal in New Jersey since 2013, and New Jersey family courts apply the same divorce and custody laws to same sex couples as they do to heterosexual couples. When it comes to child custody, state law requires that there be no bias based on gender or sexual orientation.
The right of both parents to be a positive influence in the lives of their children is something a court takes very seriously. In all child custody matters, the court will be guided by what is in the best interest of the child. This is true where one parent has primary residential custody or where both parents have shared physical custody.
The court will look very carefully at a number of factors when determining custody under New Jersey law, which include but are not limited to:
- The parents’ ability to agree, communicate, and cooperate in matters relating to the child.
- The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse.
- The interaction and relationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings.
- Any history of domestic violence.
- The safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent.
- The preference of the child, if of age, and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision.
- The needs of the child.
- The stability of the home environment offered.
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education.
- The fitness of the parents.
- The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes.
- The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation.
- The parents’ employment responsibilities.
- The age(s) and number of children.
To encourage the involvement of both parents in their children’s lives, courts today tend to favor a joint custody arrangement, which can be either legal or physical, or both. Parents with joint legal custody both have legal decision-making power regardless of where the child lives.
However, some same sex custody disputes can be complicated by other factors, including adoption, surrogacy, or if the dispute involves children from a previous relationship. Divorcing same sex couples may want to consider mediation as a more efficient and private way to deal with child custody matters, so it helps to consult with an attorney experienced in same sex divorce and mediation so you know all your legal options.
Protecting your interests and achieving results that support your needs is what you can expect from Cistaro Law. Contact us today for your free consultation.