The Washington Post Magazine recently featured a story spotlighting 50/50 shared parenting in custody cases. This topic continues to garner attention on both the state and national levels. The Family Law Department here at Mandelbaum Barrett is well-versed in this arena, having just published an analysis on the issue in the New Jersey Law Journal. Read that article here.
At present, there is no presumption or automatic consideration of 50/50 shared parenting time in the State of New Jersey. Two bills, however, remain pending with the legislature on these issues. Bills have been proposed in 39 of 50 states requiring that judges either consider shared custody or abide by a presumption of shared custody. Modern attitudes towards working parents and dual working-parent households, as well as psychological studies, appear to be fueling trends.
Custody matters in New Jersey remain focused on the “best interests of the child.” This standard, albeit amorphous in nature, is intended to foster and encourage a child’s happiness, security, mental health, and emotional development. This approach is not a “once size fits all” way to handle custody matters. While we as practitioners have seen an increased number of shared parenting arrangements, the New Jersey courts remain squarely focused on the child’s “best interests” when making custody determinations.
Shared parenting arrangements appear to be successful when there is a baseline level of trust between the parties and no significant issues affecting the parents or child. That does not mean, however, that it is appropriate in every case. Ironically, the young mother who shared her story – and success with her 50/50 arrangement – with the Washington Post agreed with this sentiment.
We continue to argue that there should not be a mandatory or mechanical way to divide time children spent with each parent. Rather, each case should be reviewed on an individual basis utilizing the statutory factors and considering the unique circumstances of each family. To obtain a resolution that is truly in a child’s best interests, we must not lose sight of each child’s needs and the family’s circumstances. Our Family Law team at Mandelbaum Barrett is available to answer any questions you may have.