One of the most challenging parts of a divorce or separation can be determining child custody. And it’s natural to immediately think of the finances of the two parents when considering a child custody dispute. But how do parental finances impact child custody in New Jersey?
The short answer is that a parent’s finances are a factor in child custody, but far from the only or most important factor. The court considers the entire circumstances of the family life and the parents’ states when making decisions about custody of any children.
Finances are only one piece of the puzzle
Obviously, financial stability is important for any child’s welfare. And the court certainly tends to favor solutions where a child is supported financially. But the following other factors also play into the decision:
- Which parent had primary responsibility for the child before the case?
- How stable is each parent, and is there a history of drug/alcohol abuse or mental issues?
- What is the physical health of each parent, and would health impact child care?
- Has there been any evidence of abuse or neglect toward the child from either parent?
- What are the child’s preferences, and does the child have siblings living with either parent?
As you can see, the court is not simply looking at finances and making decisions about the children’s custody based only on that.
That said, clear evidence of financial instability can lower the chances that a parent gains custody. If a parent is homeless, for example, the court will frequently look unfavorably upon granting custody there, as providing housing is of key importance.
The court may award child support and spousal support
Keep in mind too that in situations where a court awards custody to a parent with less financial resources than the other, the court is also likely to render a judgment for child support and/or spousal support.
So, while parental finances are something to consider for child support battles, the big picture is more complicated.