Articles Tagged with best interest of the child

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When custody disputes arise, I often consider the Biblical narrative, 1 Kings 3:16-28,  which tells the story of how King Solomon resolved a custody dispute of sorts between two women who lived 296050aba1c021ff4a7e4cab0ed498d2-3-300x200 in the same home.  The women came before King Solomon, each claiming to be the mother of the same baby boy.   King Solomon called for a sword and rendered his judgment:  He would cut the baby in two so that each woman could receive half.  The first woman did not contest Solomon’s decision, arguing that if she could not have the baby, then neither woman could.  The second woman begged King Solomon to give the baby to the other woman instead of killing the baby. King Solomon declared the second woman as the infant’s true mother, reasoning that as a mother she would give up the baby if she had to in order to save his life.

In custody cases, I often see  people come in with some preconceived notion about how they think family court judges handle custody cases.  Some, for instance, are of the false believe that mothers are presumed to have primary custody of children and that they come in “ahead” somehow in a custody dispute.  That is not the case.  They also believe that it is presumed that fathers are going to then have limited time with the children.   Neither is the case.   New Jersey’s custody statute, N.J.S.A. 9:2-4, states the Legislature’s policy is to “assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage and that it is in the public interest to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy”.  The statue also states that “In any proceeding involving the custody of a minor child, the rights of both parents shall be equal . . .”.

Some litigants when they come in think that there is a presumption that the children will be “split in half” so to speak – as King Solomon suggested, and that this is done by splitting the time with the children in half, like splitting a bank account.  There is no such presumption in New Jersey of 50/50 parenting time.   Equal parenting time is an option for the family court under the existin custody, statute but it is not presumed.

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More and more women are choosing to exclusively breastfeed given the reports as to the superior health benefits, not just physically but psychologically, of breast feeding.  Arranging parenting file000956778186-225x300 time between divorced or separated parents of a child who is still breastfeeding poses issues not just with overnight parenting time but daytime parenting time as well. Children who are exclusively breast-fed may reject a bottle.  Nevertheless, there is an argument that the child should be given breast milk from a bottle during parenting time. After all, not only should the child receive the best nutrition, but also facilitating a relationship with the father at the earliest age possible is in the child’s best interest. Continue reading

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file701299029783-300x255In Sacklow v. Betts, a case of first impression,  Hon. Marcia Silva, J.S.C. a Chancery Division judge in Middlesex County, decided that the “best interest of the child” standard applies when a considering whether to allow a transgender child to change his or her legal name.

Janet Sacklow, the child’s mother in this case, petitioned the Chancery Division to change the name of the parties’ 16 year old transgender child from Veronica to Trevor, arguing that this was in the child’s best interest because her child is transgender, identifies as a male, and has been undergoing treatment for gender dysphoria.  Richard Betts, the child’s father, initially opposed the name change, but after cross examining the child, he was willing to consent to changing Veronica’s name to Trevor even though he still nonetheless expressed his concern about whether this name change was in the best interest of the child. Continue reading