I have been practicing domestic relations law since 1987.  I have seen a lot of change in these last 30 years.  Believe it or not, we used to have to bring an independent witness to court to testify as to the breakdown of the marital relationship.  I have seen judges struggle with the notion of joint custody.  There was one–a side judge–who refused to grant such requests, even if the parties agreed to it.

But this year, we may see the biggest changes yet.  The legislature is considering the idea that a judge could order joint custody, whether the parties agreed to it or not.  Some jurisdictions, like New Jersey, have allowed this for years.  A friend of mine who practices in New Jersey explained that the possibility of court-ordered joint custody usually gets the parties to be more realistic about they’re positions.  I’m skeptical.  We may be headed to more frequently contested hearings which can only cause a further breakdown in communication and increase costs of divorce.

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