Child Custody in Ocean County

New Jersey statute explains it is public policy that minor children have continued relationships with both parents when they do not reside together. In Ocean County, child custody matters are heard by the Family Division of the court located in Toms River. In handling these cases, the court makes decisions based on what they believe to be in the best interest of the child.

Court Custody Determinations

Courts are to enter child custody actions free from any preconceived assumptions or preferences as it relates to custody awards. The judge responsible for the proceeding may use their discretion; however, the determinations are still guided by statute. These decisions are based on ensuring the child's “safety, happiness, physical, mental, and moral welfare.”

Types of Custody

A legal custody award makes one or both parties responsible for making important decisions on behalf of the child. These may include examples such as medical treatment, education, religion, etc. Physical custody refers to the party that is responsible for housing the minor. These responsibilities exist until the child reaches the age of 18 unless modified by court order.

If one parent or guardian is awarded custody, it is referred to as sole custody. If both parents are awarded custody rights it is referred to as having joint custody. In sole custody arrangements, the other parent is typically allotted parenting time, also often called visitation.

Factors Considered in Custody Decisions

The judge may consider a host of factors in determining a custody award. They may assess the home environments and resources of the parties to determine which setting may be potentially more stable. Safety is always a major consideration. The judge will determine if there is any history of domestic violence, abuse, problems with drugs and/or alcohol, etc.

When the minor has siblings, the judge is typically more inclined to award physical custody so that the children live together. If the child is older than 12 and found to be mature, the court may consider their preference.

Interfering With Custody

A parent or guardian of a minor may be charged with a criminal offense when they interfere with court-ordered custody provisions. This may be committed by concealing or detaining the minor without communicating with the other party. The offense may be committed if the party is seeking to evade the court's jurisdiction.

This offense may be committed when a party is deprived of their custody or parenting time for 24-hours or more. Based on the individual circumstances, a violation may be charged as a second, third or fourth-degree offense. The following chart outlines the maximum penalties that may be imposed based on the grade.

Grade of Offense

Maximum Incarceration

Maximum Fine

Second Degree

5 to 10 years

Up to $150,000

Third Degree

3 to 5 years

Up to $15,000

Fourth Degree

18 months

Up to $10,000

Legal Representation for Custody-Related Cases in New Jersey

The procedures and rules of the courts that handle domestic matters such as cases of child custody have been changing recently. Having an attorney that is very familiar with this area of legal practice is important. For a case evaluation, contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686.

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1500 Walnut St, Suite 500
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 535-5353
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
3000 Atrium Way - Suite 200
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
2 more locations

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.