Determining child custody can be difficult. Often, parents have strong and differing opinions when it comes to what is best for their children. In some cases, parents can make custody decisions through the process of mediation. But, most of the time custody decisions are made by a judge. Read on to learn more about the process of determining child custody in New Jersey.
How is custody determined?
When making a custody decision, a judge is working to do what is in the child’s best interests. In order to do this, he or she will consider the following factors:
- The parents’ ability to communicate, cooperate and agree regarding matters of the child
- The parent’s willingness to accept custody and any unwillingness to allow parenting time
- The relationship of the child with their parents and siblings
- Any history of domestic violence
- The safety of the child and the safety of one parent from another
- The preference of the child when of sufficient age
- The child’s needs
- The stability of the home environment
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education
- The fitness of both parents
- The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
- The parents’ employment responsibilities
Physical vs legal custody
Physical custody: This type of custody is awarded to the parent with whom the child spends the most time. This parent is mainly responsible for necessities like stable housing, clothing, education, and more. Sometimes parents work to split custody equally, and other times one parent has the child for more time. The parent with physical custody may be entitled to child support.
Legal custody: This refers to a parent’s legal right to make important decisions in the life of the child. These decisions may regard choices about the child’s academics, religion, and health care. Normally, legal custody is awarded to both parents.
What is sole custody?
In rare cases, a parent may be awarded sole custody. This occurs when a parent is deemed unfit and the other parent is granted sole custody. This does not happen often, because New Jersey courts believe that a child benefits greatly from having some form of a relationship with both parents. Even when a parent is deemed unfit, he or she will often have some type of visitation arrangement.
If you have any questions or concerns about child custody arrangements, contact our firm today.
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If you require strong legal representation for matters related to divorce or family law, Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn is here to help. We proudly represent clients in Morris County and throughout the state of New Jersey. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.