New Jersey Child Custody Attorney
The New Jersey Child Custody Laws involve some basic terminology that is important for you to understand:
Legal Custody: The right of the parent(s) to have a say in the major decisions of a child’s life. This can include schools, medical procedures, etc.
Physical Custody: This is the more traditional sense of ‘custody.’ Physical custody means sheltering the child and providing basic, fundamental care to the child.
Joint Custody: Joint Custody means both parents are involved in the child’s life. Joint Custody in New Jersey can refer to either the legal custody or physical custody.
Sole Custody: Sole custody refers to one parent having absolute control of the child’s life. As with joint custody, this could apply to sole legal custody, sole physical custody, or both.
The Child Custody Laws in New Jersey state a public policy objective of providing minor children with ‘frequent and continuing contact’ with both parents in the event of a divorce, dissolution of a Civil Union, or a dissolved marriage. This typically means that the court will try its best to work out a joint child custody arrangement. However, during a child custody determination the child’s best interest is always the central factor. As such, any adverse history such as domestic violence can lead the court to determine that sole custody is best for the child. That said, at the beginning of a child custody hearing in New Jersey, the parents are both considered to be on an equal footing and neither is inherently favored over the other until a litany of factors are balanced and weighed. It is important to have an experienced New Jersey Child Custody Attorney on your side.
Factors Considered in Child Custody Determinations
In New Jersey, the judge will examine many different factors to determine what is best for the child. These factors include:
- Any history of domestic violence;
- The child’s safety and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
- Each parent’s ability to cooperate, agree, and communicate in decisions made that affect the child;
- Each parent’s openness to receiving custody as well as any previous history of barring the other parent from parenting time – unless there has been abuse in the past;
- The child’s relationship with siblings and parents;
- What the child wants – but only if the child is old enough to actually reach a reasonable decision;
- What the child needs;
- The child’s education – both the quality and continuity;
- Each parent’s home environment and the stability thereof;
- Each parent’s fitness to receive custody;
- The physical, geographic location and proximity of each parent’s home;
- The quality and quantity of time spent with the child by each parent both before the parents separated, and after;
- Each parent’s job and overall responsibilities of employment; and
- The number and age of the children involved in the custody case.
It is worth noting that these factors are not all considered equal. For example, a history of domestic violence will weigh heavily against that parent and could lead to an award to sole custody to the other parent. Further, even if joint custody is awarded, that does not mean that neither parent will have to pay alimony or child support.
What is the best way of increasing your chances in a Child Custody hearing?
As mentioned above, courts weigh many factors when determining child custody arrangements in New Jersey. However, the factors are all weighed with one central goal: to provide the best possible outcome for the child. Thus, your goal should be to show the court that you provide an excellent environment for the child, and that your behavior and lifestyle promotes the child’s best interests. Being involved in your child’s life is a great way to show this to the court. Know when they have soccer practice, who their coaches are, who their teachers are, how they are doing in school, what their hobbies are, etc. The more you can show the court that you are involved in your child’s life and that you are an excellent role model and provider, the better.
It is easy to get confused or overwhelmed by the different factors and considerations in New Jersey child support cases. If you want the assistance of a highly skilled team of New Jersey child custody attorneys, call us today for a FREE consultation. We will help you navigate the complex legal processes and defend your rights.
Experienced New Jersey Child Custody Attorney
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