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Are legal custody issues complicating your divorce?

Divorce is stressful, there is no getting around that. When you add in the matter of legal custody of your teenage child, the strain you are dealing with increases. You only want the best for your child, but if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot agree on custody matters, a judge may have to step in.

If you are getting ready to petition the court, there are several aspects of child custody in New Jersey to keep in mind.

Dividing responsibilities

Legal custody addresses how you and the other parent will share the responsibility of making key decisions, such as medical and dental care, education and religious upbringing for your child. The decisions you put in place now will affect a child's life for a long time. If you and your ex are not able to agree on how to handle legal custody, a judge will decide. How you and your ex have handled these kinds of responsibilities in the past will be taken into consideration, as will the wishes of your child.

Dealing with an older child

No child under 18 years of age can decide which parent to live with. That said, children who have entered their teen years can go through changes that are not easy to deal with. If your 15-year-old has developed a difficult attitude around his mother and wants to live with Dad, the courts will take his wishes into consideration. However, based on the available information, the judge may decide that living with Mom would be in the best interests of the child.

Seeking help

Legal custody is one of the most contentious topics in a divorce proceeding. It meshes with other child-parent issues that can be new experiences for a divorced couple. An attorney experienced with family law matters can provide answers for the many questions you have, plus legal assistance as you and your child settle into life after divorce.

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