New Jersey parents going through a divorce typically have to consider child custody matters in order to settle their divorce. Custody is determined based on various factors that parents should be familiar with.
What are the types of child custody in New Jersey?
Legal custody means that the parent has the right to make decisions concerning matters such as the child’s education, medical care and religion. When the parents share joint legal custody, both are allowed to share in making such decisions. If a parent has sole legal custody, that parent alone gets to make those decisions.
Physical custody concerns where the child lives. Parents can have joint physical custody, or one could have sole physical custody. When parents have joint physical custody, the child lives with both by alternating the time they spend with each parent. If one parent is granted sole physical custody, it means the child lives with only one parent and has visitation time with the other parent.
How does the court determine child custody?
The main factor that the court considers when determining child custody is what’s in the best interests of the child. It’s urged that the parents share joint custody unless there are good reasons to grant one parent sole custody. For example, if one parent has a history of drug abuse or domestic violence, the court might decide that parent should not gain custody but could have visitation with the child as long as it’s supervised. The court will also explore factors such as the child’s wishes if they are 12 or older, the parents’ fitness, each parent’s jobs and the home’s stability.
When joint custody is decided, the state often encourages a 50/50 arrangement so that each parent is on equal standing. This is because it’s often viewed as being in the child’s best interest to have solid relationships with both parents.