Can a Child Pick Which Parent to Live With in New Jersey?

Custody has a major impact on a child’s life. As a result, the child may wish to have a say in the situation. However, this is not an option in every state. Read on to learn more about custody laws in New Jersey.

What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

There are two main forms of custody in New Jersey, physical and legal custody.

Physical custody:  This parent is mainly responsible for necessities like stable housing, clothing, education, and more.  Sometimes parents work to split custody equally, and other times one parent has the child for more time. The parent with physical custody may be entitled to child support.

Legal custody: This refers to a parent’s legal right to make important decisions in the life of the child. These decisions may regard choices about the child’s academics, religion, and health care. Normally, legal custody is awarded to both parents.

In rare cases, a parent will be deemed unfit and the fit parent will be awarded sole custody. In most cases, the unfit parent will have supervised or unsupervised visits depending on the situation.

Can a child choose where to live?

In New Jersey, a judge is obligated to consider a child’s preference when making a custody decision. There is no age limit for this, a judge may consider the preference of a child of sufficient age. It is important to know that custody is complex and there are a number of factors that will be considered.

How does a judge determine a custody arrangement?

When making a decision about child custody, a judge will consider a number of factors, including:

  • 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 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.

Contact our experienced New Jersey firm

If you require strong legal representation for matters related to divorce or family law, Haber Silver Simpson & Russoniello is here to help. We proudly represent clients in Morris County and throughout the state of New Jersey. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.