In Cape May County, the Family Court is responsible for hearing matters relate to child custody, support, parenting time, etc. This agency also has jurisdiction in Atlantic County. Child custody cases are quite common statewide. There are approximately 280,000 households that have minor children and either a single mother or single father.
Judges hearing child custody cases make awards for legal and physical custody. These decisions are consistent with the overall goal of doing what is believed to be in the best interest of the minor. Legal custody is awarded to a parent or guardian that makes them responsible for critical life decisions on behalf of the child. These may include decisions relating to medical treatment, education, religion, and others.
The parent or guardian that is awarded physical custody is responsible for providing the child's home. The custodial parent is responsible for day-to-day supervision. Both legal and physical custody may be awarded exclusively to one parent (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents.
Parenting Time (Visitation)
The noncustodial parent is typically awarded parenting time or visitation rights. This schedule is a primary part of a parenting plan that the parties may agree on. When efforts to mediate or negotiate the provisions of a parenting plan are unsuccessful, a court judge will intervene and order such arrangements.
What Factors Are Considered in Custody Awards?
Courts have some discretion in determining the best interests of the child. They assess any existing relationships between the parties and the child. If the child is mature enough, courts may consider any preferences expressed by the minor. Judges evaluate the fitness of the parties and determine their capability of providing a safe and stable home environment.
Any history of domestic violence or abuse and evidence of problems with drugs and/or alcohol will factor into these decisions. Physical custody decisions may be influenced by the ability of the parties to provide childcare. Any existing physical custody arrangements of siblings may be considered when applicable.
The New Jersey Department of Children and Families published a report indicating that having siblings housed together is preferable. They feel that the children can better support one another and the environment is more likely to be stable. The organization explains that efforts should be made to maintain this arrangement when possible.
Violating or Interfering With Custody Orders
If a parent or guardian detains or conceals the whereabouts of the child from the other they may face criminal charges. This applies when the child is removed from the state or otherwise deprives the other parent of more than 24-hours of rightful custody or parenting time. Sometimes the violation is committed by evading the jurisdiction of the court. Depending on the circumstances, the offense may be charged as a second, third or fourth-degree offense punishable by the following;
- Second-degree offense: Incarceration of between five and ten years and a maximum of a $150,000 fine
- Third-degree offense: Incarceration of between three and five years and a maximum of a $15,000 fine
- Fourth-degree offense: Incarceration for up to 18 months and a maximum of a $10,000 fine
New Jersey Child Custody Attorney
Do you have an upcoming court date for a case involving custody of a child? These are often emotional events with uncertain outcomes. It is strongly recommended that you seek the assistance of a seasoned lawyer that will guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today.