Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody in NJ
The process of separating can take a huge toll on everyone involved, including any involved children. When it comes to moving forward into a new custody arrangement, it is important to make the child’s best interests the center of any consideration and co-parenting plan. What are the potential custody arrangements? How does the child spend their time in each arrangement, and which parent gets a legal say in important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing? Read on to learn more about child custody arrangements in New Jersey and how you can best support a balanced and healthy family arrangement moving forward.
Who Will Get Custody of the Children in a Divorce?
There are many factors that the Superior Court: Family Part judge will take into consideration when it comes to determining child custody. A divorcing couple has the opportunity to come to their own agreement on custody and shared Parenting Time Agreements by themselves or with the support of their family lawyers or a divorce mediator. If the couple cannot come to an agreement, however, the Court judge will make the determination.
How is Child Custody Determined in New Jersey?
As noted, a child custody arrangement is either agreed upon by the couple and presented to the Court for approval, or it is determined by the Court based on a number of factors. The Family Court will always keep the child’s best interests at the center of any child custody determination. The Court considers that it is in the best interests of the child to spend an equal amount of time with both parents if it is safe and healthy for the child to do so. In order to determine this, the Court will consider the child’s relationship with each parent before the divorce; the parents’ living arrangements, location, and work situations; the child’s age and involvement in school and extracurricular social activities; the parents’ proactivity in cultivating a relationship with the child; and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse that a parent may have had. The desires of the child are also taken into consideration. Based on these factors, the judge will make a determination that honors the best interests of the child.
What Are the Two Types of Custody?
There are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody speaks to who the child will live with, and where they will spend their time. A parent may have sole physical custody or share joint physical custody.
Legal custody refers to who will have a legal say in decisions regarding the child. A parent may have sole legal custody or joint legal custody.
What is Sole Custody?
A parent with sole custody spends the vast majority of the time with the child and reserves all legal rights to making decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.
A parent with sole physical (residential) custody is called the custodial parent. A parent is considered to have sole physical custody when the child spends at least 5 nights per week with that parent. Parenting Time Agreements are court-mandated agreements that co-parents come to ensure that there is regularity in the child’s routines (for example, agreed-upon nightly phone calls), so the child has some relationship with each parent if it is safe for the child. The Court considers it important for a child to spend time with the non-custodial parent, even if that parent’s visits must be supervised.
A parent with sole legal custody makes all determinations in the health, medical, educational, and religious welfare of the child. A parent with sole legal custody is the only of the two parents with a legal say regarding these important elements of the child’s upbringing.
What is Joint Custody?
Parents who share joint custody of a child share both time with the child and decision-making powers.
Joint physical (or joint residential) custody means that the child spends nearly an even amount of time with each parent. This could look like the child spending weekdays with one parent and weekends and summers with the other; it could look like a nesting arrangement in which a child lives in one home, and the parents move in and out of the house in fair order to spend time with the child; it could look like extended periods of time with one parent and then the other, or any number of other arrangements that give the child an equal amount of time with both parents. The appropriate joint physical (joint residential) arrangement will depend on the age of the child and where each parent lives, among other factors that must be considered in the child’s best interest.
Joint legal custody means that parents each have a right to a say in important medical, educational, and religious matters.
How Do I Get Emergency Custody of a Child?
A parent may ask for an emergency custody order with the Court by filing a motion with the Court detailing evidence that the child is in danger of being harmed or abducted by being in the care of the other parent.
How Do I Regain Custody of My Child?
If the New Jersey Family Part Court has granted sole physical and legal custody to your ex, it is essential that you seek the support of a family lawyer. Your lawyer will help you request a reevaluation by the Court and seek contingency actions.
How Can a NJ Lawyer Help Me in a Custody Case?
Before or after a custody determination by the Court, a family law lawyer is an invaluable asset to presenting the most solid case for physical and legal custody of your child. They know what the judge is looking for to protect the best interests of the child and will support you to present a case that proves you are relationally, mentally, emotionally, professionally, financially, and otherwise the best support system for your child as they grow up.
If you are dealing with a child custody issue in New Jersey, the lawyers at The Montanari Law Group, LLC have the tools and knowledge to guide you every step of the way. We will dedicate all of our efforts to getting a positive outcome regarding your custodial matters, keeping in mind the child’s best interest at all times. Our law firm is ready to provide you with a free initial consultation to discuss your case.