How is child custody determined in New Jersey?

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Child custody issues are complex and vary from family to family. No parent wants to lose valuable time with their child. It is understandable to want to fight over custody for this reason alone. It is important to understand all the aspects of how custody is determined in New Jersey for the best possible outcome for you and your children. Continue reading to answer any questions you might have about child custody.

How can I get custody of my child?

New Jersey law requires parents to first file a motion or complaint through the court system of New Jersey. Custody issues will first be attempted to be resolved through child custody mediation with hopes to arrive at an appropriate custody agreement without the need for litigation.

Before pursuing mediation, you will attend a New Jersey Parent’s Education Program with the child’s other parent. This program’s purpose is to provide information about childhood transitions through divorce or separation. It will also provide alternative dispute resolutions for custody issues.

If the child custody mediation is not successful and you are unable to reach an agreement, you will proceed to a custody hearing. This hearing will occur during court. The outcome will be determined by a judge.

What is joint custody?

It is common that New Jersey courts will grant joint custody when parents cannot agree on custody terms. Joint custody is an agreement where both parents share custody in order to play equal parts in the child’s life. This is a favorable option to courts because it alters the child’s life as little as possible.

In instances where one parent proves that they are presently unfit to be a parent, New Jersey courts may grant the other parent sole custody of the child.

What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions for the child on their behalf while physical custody refers specifically to where the child primarily resides. Some examples of legal custody include having a say in the medical treatments your child receives, what religion they practice, or where they go to get an education.

What do New Jersey courts consider when determining child custody?

When determining custody, New Jersey courts take into consideration many factors. Some of the factors the courts will consider include the following:

  • The child’s age
  • The bond they have with both parents
  • Who their primary caregiver has been
  • If there is a reason for the primary caregiver to change (or not change)
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The needs of the child
  • The ability of each parent to act as a guardian

Contact our NJ Child Custody Lawyers for More Answers

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, we focus only on family law and divorce to provide unparalleled representation to parents and their children during difficult times of divorce and family reconfiguration. We are always available to discuss your situation, to answer your questions, and to ensure that you are fully informed as you seek the most positive resolution of custody matters. To speak with one of our seasoned family lawyers today, contact our firm.

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