When couples with children get divorced, they often wonder about custody. One of the most commonly asked questions is: how is custody determined? Read on to learn more about how courts make custody decisions in New Jersey.
What are the different types of custody awarded in New Jersey?
The first thing to understand is the different types of custody a parent may be awarded.
Physical: This type of custody is awarded to the parent with whom the child spends more nights of the week. This is also known as the “custodial parent.” This parent is mainly responsible for providing the child with basic necessities, including a stable home, healthy food, education, and more. Typically, the child will go back and forth between the homes of both parents, however, this is not always the case.
Legal: This type of custody can be awarded to both parents and is not influenced by physical custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions in the life of his or her child. These decisions may involve matters of education, healthcare, religion, and more.
Sole: In rare cases, a parent will be deemed unfit and will lose custody. When this happens, the first parent will be awarded sole custody. Generally, the other parent will still have some form of visitation, either supervised or unsupervised.
How does a New Jersey judge determine custody?
New Jersey judges take custody very seriously. When making a custody decision, a judge is working to do what is in the child’s best interest. To make a decision, he or she will consider the following:
- The parents’ ability to communicate, cooperate, and agree regarding matters of the child
- The parents’ 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
If you have any questions or concerns about child custody in New Jersey, our firm is here to help. Reach out today to speak with an experienced family law attorney.
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