Generally, the custodial parent is the one the child lives with most of the time. New Jersey parents might share duties, but the bulk of the responsibility still falls on the custodial parent. This has advantages and drawbacks.
The custodial parent is there for the child most of the time, helping with everyday duties such as homework and with emotional support. This is both rewarding and challenging because it also means that the custodial parent is the focus of the child’s negative emotions. Children may not mean it when they act out toward the custodial parent, but even when the parent understands this, it can still be stressful.
Divorced parents usually have an agreement that deals with custody and visitation schedules and responsibilities. However, a single parent who is raising the child alone should not assume that this automatically confers custody. It might be necessary to go to court and file for custody. An attorney might be able to help a parent strategize about how to win custody. The custodial parent might also receive child support from the noncustodial parent.
In some cases, parents may decide to share physical custody. This does not necessarily mean that children will spend exactly 50 percent of their time with each parent, but the time is generally roughly equal. Whether they share custody or one parent has visitation rights, parents may also want to talk about where children will spend holidays and how vacations will be handled. In circumstances in which parents are concerned about the safety of a child, such as if the other parent is abusive, a parent might want to talk to an attorney about supervised visitation.