What types of child custody options are available in New Jersey?

No matter if you and your child’s other parent are in the process of legally separating, divorcing or living separately, it is necessary to make care and custody arrangements for your child. In the event that the New Jersey family law court becomes involved in your case because you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are unable to come to a custody agreement on your own, the presiding judge will take several factors into consideration. There are three primary custody arrangements that are available to parents like you, and they all revolve around the best interests of the child at the heart of the case.

The New Jersey State Bar Foundation discusses child custody arrangements, and explains that it is typically a priority of the court to allow children to have consistent and quality time with both parents during and after divorce proceedings. The court also strives to give parents equal access to their children so that they can uphold their parental rights and obligations. Depending upon the specific circumstances of your case, however, the court may institute particular custody arrangements.

Sole custody may be necessary in cases where your child’s other parent is abusive, incarcerated or otherwise unfit to care for or make decisions on behalf of your child. Being granted sole custody gives you the exclusive authority to make all major decisions concerning the care and upbringing of your child.

Joint legal custody is another option that is increasingly common in New Jersey. With joint legal custody, both you and your child’s other parent have the right to make decisions about your child’s care and upbringing, but your child lives predominantly in one household. For instance, your child may stay with you on the weekends and live with his or her other parent from Monday to Friday. If you are granted joint legal and physical custody, you and your child’s other parent share equal parenting time, along with decision-making responsibilities.

No two child custody cases are exactly the same, though. The information provided above is only intended to be educational in nature and cannot serve as legal counsel.