Influential Factors for Loss of Custody in New Jersey

Learn About the Factors That Could Result in Losing Your Custody Rights

Influential Factors for Loss of Custody in New JerseyChild custody is probably the most complex issue addressed in a divorce. Not only is it an emotionally charged topic, but it involves the well-being of children who suffer the most when their parents separate. There are many changes from where they live to the school they attend, and, of course, no longer spending time as a family. Sometimes, the parents aren’t the safest option in terms of custody. Poor decision-making on their part can irreparably harm their ability to have legal custody of their child, either temporarily or permanently.

Dive Deep into the Primary Reasons Parents Lose Custody of Their Children

The court considers key elements, referred to as the “best interests standard,” which the judge uses to decide the best living arrangements for the child in question. Some of these are the physical and mental health of the parent, a history of substance abuse or violence, the ability to meet the child’s needs, stability, how well the parents cooperate and co-parent, the previous caregiving role of each parent, their financial stability, their employment schedule and responsibilities, and any criminal history. When a child is old enough to voice their opinion and provide logical reasons, the court may ask them for their preference when making a custody decision. The courts include multiple factors regarding the child’s needs and the environment necessary for them to thrive when making decisions about child custody. These factors emphasize the relationship between the parent and the child and emphasize the child’s mental, educational, and physical health. The following are the main areas that influence loss of custody decisions in New Jersey family courts.

Issues with Drugs and Alcohol

One of the most common reasons a parent loses custody of their child is because of substance abuse. The safety and health of a child is jeopardized when living with a parent who has a substance abuse disorder. In 2019, across the United States, almost 40% of children removed from their homes were a result of substance abuse cases. A parent with an addiction may have difficulty fulfilling their obligations at work or home. They may make risky decisions, such as driving while under the influence. A parent with a substance abuse problem may have criminal legal issues that affect their ability to parent consistently.

Financial Issues

If a parent loses their job or has serious financial problems, it can affect their ability to have custody of their child if those financial struggles persist or worsen. As a parent’s ability to pay for their child’s basic needs is fundamental, a drastic financial situation could negatively affect the child’s overall quality of life. Temporary unemployment, underemployment, or a financial hiccup are not the same as a home that experiences food scarcity or a family who is homeless.

Child Manipulation Against the Other Parent

The temptation to badmouth your ex in front of your child is strong, but parental alienation is an unwise move. Family Court does not take kindly to parents who manipulate their children into turning against the other parent. Making negative comments, withholding affection when the child speaks positively about the other parent, or making false accusations of abuse or neglect are forms of parental alienation. Alienating a child from their other parent can have a detrimental effect on your child custody.

Unauthorized Relocation

Unauthorized relocation is another issue that frequently occurs in child custody cases. If one parent wants to move away, it can affect the child’s relationship with the other parent. Without the court’s consent, relocating disrupts the ability of the child to spend time with both parents. According to N.J.S.A. 9:2-2, children cannot be taken to reside out of state without the consent of both parents or, in exceptional cases, only with the court’s permission.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is one of the primary reasons a parent can lose custody of their child. If a restraining order is in place against the other parent, they cannot meet with the child unless the visits are supervised. Domestic violence is an insidious sickness that permeates a family unit, destroying it from within. Mental or emotional violence, such as gaslighting, passive-aggressive behavior, threats, and insults toward one parent or the child, can cause serious damage. Physical violence or sexual abuse of the child could lead the court to prevent the abusive parent from ever seeing their child again.

Neglect or Child Endangerment

Neglect or child endangerment can affect a parent’s right to child custody. Everyone has seen in the news the cases of severe neglect when children are left without clothes and food. However, neglect isn’t always that overt. Emotional neglect, such as ignoring, intimidating, or isolating them, can hurt the child’s development.

Health Issues

When a parent has a mental health issue or a physical health problem that prevents them from adequately caring for their child, custody can be changed. Mental health issues such as suicidal ideation, acute depression, schizophrenia, and severe anxiety disorders can prevent a parent from interacting in a way with their child that is healthy and safe. Physical illnesses such as cancer, emphysema, hepatic or renal failure, and many others don’t allow sick parents to conduct daily tasks as they normally would. In these instances, the court wouldn’t punish the parent for being sick but still has to ensure the child’s well-being.

Ignoring the Court

Disobeying court orders can prompt the courts to revoke a parent’s right to child custody. The court may order a parent to take parenting classes or receive counseling and expects those orders to be followed in the child’s best interest. Also, disregarding the visitation plan by picking up or returning the child late or early, canceling visits with little to no notice, or arriving to pick the child up on an unassigned day can cause instability for everyone involved, especially for the child.

Unsafe Environment

The last common reason parents lose custody of their child is when they choose to cohabitate with a registered sex offender, someone who has been convicted of child abuse and neglect, or someone with consistent issues with the law. Unfortunately, there are parents who choose their new partner over their child, putting that child in harm’s way. Believing that people can change and everyone makes mistakes in their lives is a generous notion that is sometimes true, but the court will not allow a parent to put their child at risk when they choose a sketchy partner.

Key Tips to Cope in Child Custody Disputes and Maintain Parental Rights

Factors That Could Result in Losing Your Custody Rights in Passaic County, NJNever, ever lie to the court. Whether you are afraid that by being honest, you will lose custody or want to make your ex look bad by accusing them falsely of abuse, lying under oath is against the law, and when the truth comes to light, the judge will question your testimony from that moment forward.

As hard as it may be, do everything in your power to cooperate with your ex and co-parent. Follow the agreements and visitation schedule you have made to the letter. Keep a journal of pictures and notes about any special trips or occasions, as well as the visitation schedule and if it was followed. Even if you and your ex are at odds over custody, continue to be present in your child’s life. Go to their ball games, recitals, performances, meets, and matches. Your active participation shows the court how willing you are to be there for your child.

Keep toxic people out of your life. This isn’t restricted to those friends you have that party or have substance abuse issues; it is more about the emotional support in your circle of influence. Keep negative, vindictive people from influencing you. Surround yourself with family and friends who are positive and supportive. When people around us are constantly bad mouthing someone, it makes it easier, almost justifiable, to do the same. That is not healthy for you or the child, and it could have unpleasant repercussions in court.

Safeguard Your Child Custody Rights by Talking to Our Family Lawyers in Little Falls, NJ

Child custody battles can produce severe anxiety, and the New Jersey court system can be overwhelmingly complex. You are not alone if you feel as though the court should base its decision exclusively on the parents’ decisions. Unfortunately, the process of deciding child custody in New Jersey is much more complicated, especially when the parents are at odds and can’t agree.

Our attorneys at The Montanari Law Group know how important your child is to you and are prepared to dedicate 100% of our efforts to helping you obtain the best possible outcome. We research every case and are attentive to your unique needs and concerns in Short Hills, Ringwood, Wyckoff, Clifton, Fort Lee, West Orange, Kearny, Wayne, and towns across Northern New Jersey. We will show the court why you are an excellent parent whose sole interest is to support the growth and well-being of your child.

For a free initial consultation, call us today at (973) 233-4396 or toll-free at (888) 877-7985 to discuss your situation. You can also contact us online.


To speak with one of our highly knowledgeable attorneys, contact us today at (973)-233-4396 or toll-free at (888)-877-7985. You can also complete the form below to begin your conversation. We are a personalized, boutique-style law firm that offers free initial consultations and flexible appointment options.