Co-parenting is when parents continue to raise their children together even after divorce or separation. The default arrangement in New Jersey is usually joint legal custody and shared residential custody, which means you will have to learn to co-parent. The children may have to spend equal amounts of time with each parent, but that would depend on the parenting plan approved by the court.
You should know that you may get primary residential custody and still share legal custody with your former partner. The children may stay with you the majority of the time, but both of you still maintain the right to make decisions that could significantly affect the children.
If you receive sole legal custody, on the other hand, you will have the authority to make all major decisions for your children. You do not have to co-parent or consult with the other parent, but you may still have to keep them in the loop.
Can you obtain sole legal custody?
An award of sole legal custody is rare in New Jersey because the court presumes joint legal custody to be the ideal arrangement for the children. The children have the right to have a solid and positive relationship with both their parents after all. However, the court will always prioritize the children’s best interests over everything else.
The court may decide to give sole custody to one parent if the other is absent from their children’s lives or is unfit to take on their parental responsibilities. The court may also award sole custody to a parent when the other has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse or an untreated mental illness. But it does not automatically remove them from their children’s lives.
Co-parenting still might be the best arrangement
If you do not want to share custody only because you do not like your ex, you may want to set aside your differences for the good of the children. You can customize your parenting plan to minimize the time you spend with your former partner.
A divorce may have an adverse impact on your kids. Learning to co-parent can help them realize that you love them and prioritize them despite the divorce.