When the parents of minor children decide to divorce, legally separate, or seek a non-marital romantic split, they must determine how their parenting time will be divided and how their parental authority will be structured moving forward. As no two families are exactly alike, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for determining child custody and crafting thoughtful parenting plans. Each co-parenting team must decide how best to facilitate their child's best interests post-split. For example, some unique concerns may need to be addressed when one co-parent is far older than the other.
The Best Interests of the Child Standard
In New Jersey and throughout the nation, family law judges are required to resolve child custody disputes according to the best interests of the child standard. This means that if a child's parents cannot agree on the terms of their child custody order and parenting plan, any judge called upon to resolve remaining issues of concern will prioritize whatever they believe to be in the affected child's best interests.
Although the age of a child's parents is usually not a determinative factor in child custody cases, there are instances when it could impact a judge's decision. For example, if a child's much younger parent is still in high school or is pursuing a college degree, their maturity level, availability, and ability to juggle childcare responsibilities and earn a living while seeking a degree could be a factor in a judge's decision. On the flip side, a much older parent's health status, ability to relate to their child, and level of interest in continuing to be present for their child could impact a judge's decision as well.
Legal vs. Residential Custody
In New Jersey, custody orders concern a parent's right to legal authority to make major life decisions on their child's behalf and a parent's right to reside with their child. The age of a parent, in and of itself, is unlikely to influence a judge to restrict legal custody to one parent or the other unless the younger parent lacks the maturity to make decisions about a child's legal, medical, academic, and religious welfare. However, if the age of a parent makes it significantly more difficult to tend to a child's day-to-day needs, that could potentially impact a judge's decision concerning physical custody, which is often referred to as residential custody in New Jersey.
Seek Personalized Guidance Concerning Child Custody Matters Today
It is not always easy to know how to approach child custody matters in ways that reflect the best interests of one's child. Thankfully, the experienced Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm has extensive experience navigating a broad spectrum of child custody matters and is prepared to negotiate or litigate on behalf of your child's best interests and your parent-child relationship.
The Lento Family Law Team is available to discuss the unique circumstances of your family's situation and to begin crafting a legal strategy that meets your needs. To learn more, schedule a risk-free legal consultation today by calling 888-535-3686 or by contacting us online. We look forward to meeting you.