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A New Jersey Family Law Attorney Discusses Child Custody
As a preliminary matter, New Jersey separates child custody into two main areas: legal and physical custody. Physical custody concerns determining the child’s primary residence, while legal custody concerns determining the child’s primary caretaker. The parent with legal custody will be responsible for making significant decisions about the child’s upbringing.
Different Types of New Jersey Child Custody Arrangements
New Jersey’s family courts govern the state’s child custody laws. They also consider the child’s best interests when determining child custody arrangements. The family courts typically have three arrangements:
- Joint legal custody to both parents, where one parent is responsible for providing a physical residence for the child.
- Joint physical custody where both parents provide a respective physical residence for the child.
- Sole custody with parental time allocated to the other parent.
New Jersey family courts generally prefer joint legal custody, as this option tends to be the least disruptive of any established family dynamics and rules. This allows both parents to participate in any decisions affecting the child’s welfare, including their healthcare, education, and general overall upbringing. However, physical custody is determined using a set number of factors. These include geographic location, proximity to an existing support system (such as friends and family), and more.
How the New Jersey Family Courts Determine Child Custody
In the state of New Jersey, both parents have equal rights to child custody. While determining custody, the courts will always attempt to keep the child’s best interests in mind. They ascertain this with certain non-exclusive factors, including:
- The parents’ existing relationship, including their ability to communicate, agree, and cooperate;
- The parents’ desire to accept custody and any history of bad relations;
- The relationship of the child with its parents and any possible siblings;
- Whether a history of domestic violence exists;
- (Depending on the age) the preference of the child to make an intelligent decision;
- The child’s needs;
- The parent’s ability to offer a stable home life;
- The quality and stability of the child’s education;
- The parents’ fitness and capacity to be a good caretaker;
- The location of the homes;
- Any existing employment responsibilities; and
- The existing relationship before separation.
An increasingly common problem within New Jersey family courts is how a parent’s decision to move out of state may affect any existing custody arrangements. Depending on the custody arrangement at hand, the courts may be willing to allow the parent with primary custody to relocate with a child.
However, the custodial parent must follow specific, established procedures and guidelines before the move. This assures the courts that the parent will honor the custody arrangement and allow the other parent to remain involved in the child’s life. In contrast, parents without physical custody are free to move out of state without undergoing any further approval or following other procedural guidelines beforehand.
Custody can be an emotional and contentious issue. As such, relying on a professional advocate is the best way for parents to articulate their desires. We can help. Call (732) 449-0449 to schedule a consultation with Anthony J. Cafaro, P.C. in our Sea Girt office.
NOTE: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Child Custody in Sea Girt, NJ.
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