How is child custody determined in New Jersey?

Determining child custody is something you will want to understand every aspect of if you are in the middle of a custody battle. It is important to understand how custody is determined in your state, what is often favored in New Jersey courts, and the difference between the two types of custody. Continue reading to answer the questions you may have regarding custody in New Jersey and how it is determined.

How can I get custody of my child?

The process of gaining custody of your child begins with the New Jersey Parent’s Education Program. This program is a precursor for child custody mediation. After filing a motion or complaint through the court system of New Jersey, both parents will attend the education program which provides information about childhood transitions through divorce or separation and alternative dispute resolutions for custody issues. Both parents will then attempt a resolution through child custody mediation. The goal of this mediation is to arrive at an appropriate custody agreement without the need for litigation.

In the cases where child custody mediation does not result in an agreement, the next step in this process is to proceed to a custody hearing. This hearing will occur during court where the outcome will be determined by a judge.

What is joint custody?

Joint custody is an agreement to share custody between both parents in order for both parents to play equal parts in their child’s life. Joint custody is a favorable agreement for New Jersey courts to grant when parents cannot agree on custody terms because it alters the child’s life as little as possible. However, if one parent proves that they are unfit, the other parent may be granted sole custody by New Jersey courts. Factors such as domestic violence or substance abuse issues will have a hand in this type of decision.

What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

There are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to where the child resides primarily. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions for the child on their behalf. It is common for lawyers to focus their fight on legal custody. Some examples of legal custody include making decisions regarding the religion the child practices, medical treatments the child receives, and where the child goes to school.

What do New Jersey courts consider when determining child custody?

New Jersey courts take into consideration many factors when determining custody. Most importantly, they consider the well-being of the child and the decision that will best benefit them. The following factors will be considered by the court:

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

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.