When child custody matters are in question, the New Jersey courts weigh many critical issues. What may concern most parents is whether a judge will find them fit for custody or visitation. However, the court may place child custody limitations on even the most loving parents if their living arrangements do not offer a safe and appropriate environmentfor the child.
This does not mean a parent must live in a large house in a suburban neighborhood for the court to assign custody or visitation. Depending on the age and gender of the child, however, the parent may have to ensure him or her a certain amount of privacy. This may be difficult if a parent is seeking custody of several children but lives in a small house with only one or two bedrooms. Other factors the courts will consider include the following:
- The safety of the neighborhood, including the crime rate and proximity of any sex offenders
- The ability of the child to adapt to a smaller living environment, especially if the other parent lives in a larger home
- The parent’s efforts at making a warm and welcoming home despite difficult circumstances or limited resources
- The number of children from other relationships who may be sharing the space
Of course, each situation is unique, and a judge who believes both parents to be fit and loving is likely to work with a parent whose living arrangements are not adequate. Nevertheless, in a child custody matter, having strong legal support is always a plus. With so much at stake, New Jersey parents should know they do not have to deal with these matters alone.