Child Custody in New Jersey

Divorce is a complex and tiring issue that requires several legal matters. One of the most important parts of divorce is deciding how to move forward with the lives of any children involved in the family. When a marriage ends, the life of a child is changed forever. While some parents are able to come to certain custody agreements, others have difficulty seeing eye to eye about what is best for their child. When deciding a custody arrangement, it is important to know that there are different types available to families in New Jersey.

Physical Custody

When a parent is awarded physical custody, it means that they are the parent with whom the child spends most of their time. Sometimes referred to as residential custody, this arrangement gives one parent the right to dictate a child’s residency and everyday life. This parent is sometimes known as the “custodial” parent or the child’s primary caretaker. The parent with physical custody is also allowed to decide the parent times of the other parent involved in the agreement.

Legal Custody

Even though only one parent may have physical custody, it is still crucial for the other parent to fight for legal custody of their child. Courts often stress the necessity of having both parents involved in a child’s life. It is important that both parents still have influence over the important decisions that are made for a child. Legal custody allows the non-custodial parent to be involved in all the decisions made regarding a child’s upbringing. These decisions may handle healthcare, religion, academics, and the general wellbeing of the child.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is when a parent is awarded both legal and physical custody of their child. This type of custody is possible but usually rare. While courts do encourage both parents to be involved in their child’s life, this may change depending on the family’s circumstances. Sole custody may be awarded if a parent is seen as “unfit” or if they are believed to possibly put the child in danger. It is important to note that even in this case, the other parent is still allowed limited visitation hours.

Factors Considered

Child care is a very important issue that is handled during divorce proceedings. Making a decision on which parent is fit to take care of a child does not happen easily. When a custody case comes to court, the judge always acts in the best interest of the child. There are several factors to be considered when coming to a conclusion:

  • The bond between the child and each parent
  • The parents’ acceptance of custody
  • The child’s needs
  • If the parent can provide the child with stability
  • If the parent will act in the child’s best interest
  • History of abuse (physical, alcohol, drug)
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age


If you or a family member is going through a divorce and seeking legal representation for child custody, contact the Law Offices of George J. Mardinly today.

Our firm proudly represents clients in New Jersey who are faced with matters of family law, criminal defense, business law, real estate law, or estate planning. If you require strong and dedicated representation for any of your legal matters, contact The Law Offices of George J. Mardinly to schedule a consultation.