How is child custody determined in NJ?

The last thing a parent wants to do is lose valuable time with their child. If you are involved in an ongoing custody battle, it is essential to understand how the courts will determine your custody agreement. Having questions answered and seeking information is the best way to achieve a positive outcome for you and your child. Continue reading and reach out to a New Jersey family law attorney to walk you through each step of this legal process.

How can I get custody of my child?

The first step in this legal process is for both parents to file a motion or complaint through the New Jersey court system. Any custody issues will first attempt resolution through child custody mediation. The goal for child custody mediation is to arrive at an appropriate custody agreement without the need for litigation.

However, before attempting mediation, both parents are likely required to attend a New Jersey Parent’s Education Program. The program will offer information about alternative dispute resolutions for custody issues as well as childhood transitions through divorce or separation.

If both parents go through meditation and the New Jersey Parent’s Education Program without the success of coming to an agreement, you will proceed to a custody hearing in court where a judge will determine the outcome.

What are the different types of child custody?

There are two types of child custody: physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child primarily resides while legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions for the child on their behalf. Many attorneys will put a lot of their focus on legal custody. Some examples of legal custody include making decisions regarding medical treatment, where they go to school, and their religion.

What is joint custody?

When parents cannot agree on custody terms and a custody hearing occurs in court, New Jersey courts will commonly grant joint custody. The reason behind New Jersey courts favoring joint custody is that this is the option that alters the child’s life the least.

Joint custody is an agreement where both parents play equal parts in the child’s life while sharing equal custody of the child. However, if a parent proves that they are unfit, the court system may grant the other parent sole custody. This may relate to domestic violence incidents, substance abuse issues, or any other situation that is similar in nature.

What do New Jersey courts consider when determining child custody?

New Jersey courts take many factors into consideration when determining custody. It is important to understand that the court’s primary decision will be based on your child’s best interest. The following factors will be considered in your custody hearing:

  • The needs of the child
  • The child’s age
  • The bond that the child has with both parents
  • The ability of each parent to act as a guardian
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Who their primary caregiver has been and if there is a reason (or no reason) for change

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If you require strong legal representation for matters of divorce and family law in Rumson, Monmouth County, or anywhere in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.