A New Jersey father has once again been denied custody after petitioning the court for visitation rights to his youngest son. Not the average child custody case, the father came to a hearing on the matter last month dressed in a Nazi uniform. In keeping with his attire, the 40-year-old father had also given all his children Nazi-inspired names.
The youngest son and his three siblings were previously removed from his father's care due to allegations of violence and abuse. The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services has since placed all four siblings in foster care.
Although an extreme case, this matter shows that courts are often called upon to intervene for the safety of children. If violence or substance abuse are present, children may temporarily or permanently be removed from the care of their parents. However for most parents, child custody disputes are not between themselves and the state. Instead, custody disputes generally arise between parents who are going through a divorce.
If parents are unable to reach an agreement in a Massachusetts child custody case, the court system can be called upon to make the ultimate determination regarding custody. There are numerous factors that must be considered by courts, but the most important factor is always the child's best interests.
What is in a child's best interests is not always easy to determine and varies between cases. Although not a determining factor, a court will look to which parent has been the primary caretaker. If the child is old enough, the court may take his or her wishes into consideration. The health of the parents is also considered, as well as the need for a stable home environment. Any evidence of violence or abuse of any form is taken very seriously. Child custody decisions can have a long-term impact on a child, so the help of a family law attorney is often necessary to ensure a child's best interests are protected.
Source: NBC 10 Philadelphia, "Custody Denied to Nazi-Naming Dad," July 12, 2013