Divorce in New Jersey is seldom entered into lightly and can be further complicated if children are involved. Child custody issues can hold up proceedings and cause what can be a lengthy process to be even longer. While couples may come to an agreement on custody issues on their own, there can be advantages to having a legal custody order.

In a contentious divorce, having a judge assist in child custody decisions can help ensure that any agreement will be adhered to. In one prominent example, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie filed for divorce after separating two years ago. The proceedings have been held up by the pair’s inability to agree on the issue of child custody regarding their six children. The court exercised the option of employing a custody evaluator, a third party who can offer guidance on custody based on what is best for the children.

A custody evaluator is appointed by the court in the event of an impasse in custody negotiations. A negotiator, usually a mental health professional, will evaluate the situation from the parent’s and children’s perspectives and make a recommendation to the court. Once an agreement is reached, divorce proceedings can continue.

While most divorces in New Jersey are not as complex as the one playing out between the Jolie and Pitt, child custody arrangements can frequently be a sticking point. Both parents may have the best interests of the children in mind, but they may not agree on what the best interests are. An attorney experienced in dealing with custody issues may be able to help find common ground.