Do Grandparents Have Custody Rights in New Jersey?

Child custody is an incredibly complex issue. In some cases, grandparents wonder whether they can obtain custody of their grandchildren. Read on to learn more about New Jersey’s child custody laws.

How is Child Custody Determined?

There are two main types of custody awarded in New Jersey- physical and legal custody. Physical custody is awarded to the parent with whom the child spends more nights of the week. The child can still go back and forth between both parents, according to the custody schedule. This parent is mainly responsible for providing the child with basic necessities like a stable environment, food, education, etc. Legal custody gives parents the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child, involving things like religion, education, medical decisions, and more. When making a decision about custody, the court will consider some of 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

Can a Grandparent be Awarded Custody?

In most cases, New Jersey courts believe that a child benefits greatly from having a relationship with both parents. But, in some cases, a parent will be deemed unfit. In this case, the fit parent will be awarded sole custody. In the rare event that both parents are deemed unfit, a grandparent may be able to obtain custody of the grandchild. Some reasons a parent may be deemed unfit include:

  • Abuse
  • Incarceration
  • Substance abuse
  • Neglect
  • Refusal to co-parent
  • Failure to follow court orders

Grandparents may also be able to obtain custody in the tragic event that both of the child’s parents are deceased.

If you are a grandparent and you are interested in obtaining custody of your grandchild, reach out to our firm to discuss your case.

Contact our experienced Red Bank firm

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, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of George J. Mardinly to schedule a consultation.