There's no easy way of going through a split with your spouse or partner. The process is often even more difficult and emotional when minor children are involved. If you're going through a separation or divorce and are trying to learn everything you can about custody in New Jersey, you should know that the courts prefer some arrangements over others. If you're prepared to work with your ex to prepare a custody agreement that the courts will favor, the process may go more smoothly and be less contentious.
In New Jersey, courts prioritize the well-being of the child or children. It's a generally accepted principle that children benefit from being around both of their parents. Of course, there are exceptions, and like the Tender Years Doctrine, that you may need to speak with your attorney about.
Sole custody occurs when only one parent is awarded custody, legal or physical. This is less common in New Jersey because it's not generally in the best interest of the child. There may be a good reason to award sole custody to only one parent, granting the other visitation rights. A parent may be unfit, for example, or they may work hours that aren't suitable for a joint custody arrangement.
Absent some extreme circumstances, courts are most likely to award joint custody to both parents. Joint custody can also be further categorized into joint legal custody and joint physical custody.
Joint Legal Custody
Legal custody refers to a parent's right to make certain decisions affecting the child. Matters considered in legal custody in New Jersey might include:
- Where will the child attend school?
- Where will the child attend church, or if they will attend church at all?
- What kind of medical attention does a child need?
As you can guess, these issues can lead to heated disagreements when parents can't come to a consensus. When parents are granted joint legal custody, they will share in making these decisions. While it can be hard for parents, it's almost always better for the child when parents agree on legal custody issues before implementing them.
Joint Physical Custody
As the name implies, joint physical custody refers to which parent is physically responsible for the child. Parents who are awarded joint physical custody will develop a schedule, alternating days or weeks when the child is with one parent versus another.
Call a New Jersey Family Law Attorney
Nothing is more heart-wrenching than the risk of losing custody of your child. With the help of experienced NJ family law attorney Joseph D. Lento, you'll be better position to demonstrate how custody of your child is in the best interest of your child's needs to the court. To learn how Attorney Lento and his dedicated team at the Lento Law Firm can help you, contact us online, or call 888-535-3686 today.