Child custody is a serious matter involving many emotions for most people. When a couple separates, even if they are not married, it is one of the first things considered. It’s one of the reasons why many enlist the services of a New Jersey child custody lawyer.
The child custody laws in New Jersey are like the laws in other states, but there are some notable differences you should know about. Understanding the law will help you know what to expect if you seek custody in New Jersey.
Having an experienced and knowledgeable child custody attorney representing your interests is also important. Our New Jersey child custody lawyer has decades of experience helping clients with child custody matters and can provide you with the same professional services to help you achieve the desired outcome for your child custody case.
Child Custody Considerations
In any child custody matter, two parts must be considered, which include the following:
- Legal custody; and
- Physical custody.
Sole vs. Joint Legal Custody
Legal custody is the term used to designate what parent is legally allowed to make decisions for their child. This includes religious, educational, and medical decisions. The parent who has legal custody may be granted sole or joint custody. If you and the child’s other parent are given joint legal custody, they will share equally in the decisions about their child.
If a parent has sole legal custody, it means only one parent has the right to make decisions related to the child.
Sole Versus Joint Physical Custody
In New Jersey, “physical custody” is the term used to show where the child lives. Just like legal custody, there is sole and joint physical custody.
If joint physical custody is awarded, the parents will typically split time with their child equally. There are a few options to do this, which include creating an alternating weekly schedule.
In other situations, one parent will be given sole physical custody. This is when the child stays with one parent and may have specified visitation times with the other.
The total visitation time awarded will be determined by a child custody agreement the parents agree to or a judge. It is smart to have legal representation from our experienced child custody attorneys to help ensure your interests and rights are protected.
What to Know About Child Custody in Neptune, New Jersey
New Jersey courts usually favor awarding parents joint legal and physical custody arrangements. This is because these arrangements help ensure the child can establish or maintain relationships with both parents.
The state prefers a 50/50 custody arrangement in joint custody situations.
While this is true, the court always considers the child’s best interests. Sometimes, it is not ideal for parents to share responsibility for their child’s well-being.
If you are concerned this is the case in your situation, it is smart to enlist the services of New Jersey child custody lawyer. We will ensure that your interests are protected.
Issues Related to Child Custody and Child Support
It is important to note that child support and child custody are separate legal matters. Both parents are legally responsible for providing their children with sufficient food, clothing, and a safe and secure home. Child support is awarded to ensure that both parents can continue doing this after separating.
The non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent to care for a child’s daily needs. Usually, the parent paying child support will have visitation or the right to help when it comes to making important decisions regarding the child’s life.
Child Support for Joint Custody Situations
Even if one parent does not have physical or legal custody rights to a child, they may still be required to pay child support to the parent who does. However, when parents share custody of the child, they may decide to deviate from the traditional form of child support. This is because both parents will incur the same daily care costs for the child.
Common Questions About Child Custody Matters in New Jersey
Our legal team works tirelessly to provide answers to our clients regarding New Jersey child custody matters. We have answered some of the most asked questions here.
What is an unfit parent?
A 50-50 split for custody will not be in the child’s best interest if one parent is determined to be unfit. In New Jersey, this means the following:
- A history of alcohol or drug abuse;
- A history of domestic violence; or
- Have demonstrated they had no interest in supporting the child or providing for their well-being.
Other conditions may result in the court deviating from a joint physical and legal custody arrangement, which includes the following:
- One parent was the main caretaker for most of the child’s life; or
- There are siblings.
When can a child choose what parent they want to live with in New Jersey?
A judge will consider a child’s wishes in a child custody case if they are over the age of 12. However, the final decision will be based on what the judge views as the child’s best interest, without regard to their preference.
Based on New Jersey law, a child can only choose what parent they will reside with if they are emancipated or reach the age of 18.
Do grandparents in New Jersey have visitation or custody rights?
This is only allowed in limited circumstances. The grandparent must show that visitation is in the child’s best interest, and they must also show evidence that visitation is required to ensure the child is not harmed. It is also necessary for the court to consider other factors like the child and grandparent’s relationship and the wants of the biological parents.
It is extremely difficult for grandparents to show this evidence in most cases. However, hiring a child custody attorney is recommended for grandparents who believe they deserve visitation or custody rights.
What are parenting plans, and should you have one?
If parents cannot agree on child custody, they must create and provide a parenting plan to the court. The plan will show the custody plan and parenting time schedule. Our legal team can help you create a parenting plan that considers all the necessary factors.
When is child custody determined?
Custody can be decided after the complaint is filed and after the responses are made. The required mediation must also be completed. The exception to this requirement is cases of domestic violence where a final restraining order is issued.
If mediation does not work, then a trial will be scheduled, and the court may require an investigation to be completed by the Family Division to determine the environment a child would be exposed to in each parent’s home.
Let Our Neptune, New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer Help
Child custody issues can be emotional and complex. Because there are so many laws, you must know and abide by; it is best to hire an experienced attorney for assistance.
Our legal team can provide the services you need to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. Call our office today to set up an initial consultation with our lawyers.