Divorce is most difficult on children, but life must go on and children must have the ability to have meaningful positive relationships with and guidance from both parents. Although the New Jersey statutes provide a myriad of factors for Courts to consider when assessing what parenting and custodial arrangements are best for children following a divorce (N.J.S.A. 9:2-4) the seminal standard that is used to arrive at decisions is the child’s best interests. It is not the parents’ best interests or convenience that governs determinations about the arrangements that should be made for children following a divorce. The Courts are guided solely based upon what’s best for the children.
Mr. Finnerty has, through his work when he was a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Family Part Practice Committee, contributed to development of Rules and standards utilized by Courts when making custody determinations. He spearheaded a Rule amendment (R. 5:3-3(b)) that requires mental health experts to perform parenting/custody evaluations in a strictly non-partisan fashion and to arrive at opinions solely based on what they believe is best for the child, regardless of which spouse engaged them.
Mr. Finnerty believes that divorcing spouses should make consensual arrangements to provide care of their children following their divorce. The single worst factor adversely impacting children in a divorce is the level of hostility between their parents. Children’s outcomes are directly related to the degree that such acrimony exists: the more acrimony and turbulence, the worse the outcomes for children.
However, if such cases cannot be resolved through negotiation with the assistance of mental health experts, Mr. Finnerty has tried multiple custody cases to conclusion over extended periods of time. He has also been involved and tried relocation cases to conclusion that have gone on for months at time without interruption. His articles concerning relocation may be found in the Articles section of the Finnerty, Canda & Concannon, P.C. website.