June is Pride Month. It is the ideal time to have open and honest conversations about yourself, your goals,  and your future. One of the topics that often comes up is what happens when parents divorce or separate.  Who will a child live with? What type of decisions can be made based on the gender of the parent or their  sexual orientation? 

Whether you are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community or not, it is critical to understand the laws in New  Jersey and how they directly impact child custody when a divorce or separation occurs. At Jersey Coast  Family Law, our family law attorneys would be happy to offer insight and guidance for your situation. Set  up a consultation to discuss those needs with us. 

New Jersey Laws Are Gender Neutral 

This is the first and most important fact to consider. Under New Jersey laws, both parents have equal  rights to their children. There is no consideration for the parent’s sexual orientation or gender  identification. 

If you live in another state, or you are looking for documents related to LGBTQIA+ custody rights within  a specific area, it is best to turn to a local family law attorney who can offer guidance and support to you  specifically. 

The Best Interests of the Child 

You will hear the phrase “best interests of the child” numerous times. The court’s decisions are always  based on what it believes are the best interests of the child. What does that mean? It could mean a variety  of things. 

For example, what is the child’s ability to live in a nurturing environment where they will be safe as well  as supported? New Jersey law determines what happens to a child based on the best interests of the child  regarding all aspects of that child’s needs. 

If one parent cannot provide a stable and supportive environment for any reason, the court may not  provide custody or visitation. Yet, it is also important to know that the New Jersey court does not use  your sexual identity or gender identification in any way as a deciding factor. 

What Facts the Court Does Take Into Consideration

The court will not use gender or sexual orientation in any way. Instead, it will use information such as the  following to determine the best interest of the child in a child custody case: 

  • Interactions: The child’s interaction with parents, as well as with siblings, if any, will be taken into consideration.
  • Home environment: Where does the child live now? Is that the best place for the child to remain for any reason?
  • The parents’ ability: The court also considers each parent’s ability to provide for and parent the child in a positive and meaningful manner.
  • The parents’ finances: The court will consider each parent’s financial readiness to meet the needs of the child.
  • Geographic location: The court will also consider where the child lives and the geographic location of each parent and other family members. Will the child need to switch schools? If so, will that have a negative impact on the child for any reason? 
  • The child’s preferences: The court will ask the child what they would like to do and where they would like to live. The court will also ask for insight into the child’s preferences for schools or why they wish to live with one parent or the other. Typically, the court only uses this information  as long as it feels that it is in the best interests of the child otherwise. 

Decisions About Joint Custody 

Many of today’s families will share joint custody. The court ultimately determines if this is in the child’s  best interest as well. For example, is it obvious that the parents can make decisions about the child in an  amicable manner? Will they make decisions based on hurting the other parent instead? 

How well does each parent communicate with the other? Are they willing to communicate even after they  are divorced in areas related to the child? Some parents simply cannot manage to communicate in a  positive manner. That could play a role in the decision of the court. 

Another factor to consider is domestic violence. If there is any indication of domestic violence, that will  play a role in the court’s decision. If one parent has a history of domestic violence against anyone else,  that could be used against them in making the decision for child custody. For example, the court may  choose to establish only supervised visits with the child in this situation. 

What Can a New Jersey Family Lawyer Do to Help You 

During Pride Month and the months after, it is all about equality. Yet, when it comes to family law  decisions, that is not what always occurs. The only factor that matters to the court is what is in the best  interest of the child, not the best interest of a parent. No parent has more rights than the other unless there  is clear demonstration that one parent should not have equal rights for custody of their child. 

Because of this, it is critical that you have the legal guidance and support you need when facing the  challenges of divorce and child custody. With the help of an experienced New Jersey family law attorney,  you gain insight into all of your rights, and you can be sure that the only factors influencing the decision 

of the court are those that directly relate to the child’s wellbeing. 

If, for any reason, you believe your rights have been violated, including LGBTQIA+ custody rights, it is  strongly encouraged that you seek out immediate legal support. Our child custody attorneys can help you. 

Contact a Family Law Attorney to Learn More About Your  Rights as a Parent Seeking Custody 

At Jersey Coast Family Law, Where Family Comes First, we defend the rights of our clients and help  them pursue fair access to their child. If you need a New Jersey family lawyer who is ready to fight for  you no matter the circumstances, contact our team now at 732-361-4718. We serve all of Toms River and  Red Bank, and throughout New Jersey, with exceptional attention to your needs.

Check out our other blogs: 5 Common Mistakes Going Through a Divorce in New Jersey