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Silhouette of a family divided onto two torn pieces of paper, representing child custody issues in New Jersey with a mother and child on one side, and a father and child on the other.

How Do New Jersey Courts Decide on Child Custody?

Divorce involves more than the dissolution of a marriage or the distribution of property, it involves the custody of children. If you’re wondering how New Jersey courts decide on child custody, please read on and contact an experienced Ocean County child custody attorney.

How Do New Jersey Courts Decide on Child Custody?

New Jersey custody laws give the courts significant leeway in fashioning the most appropriate custody arrangements. The factors include:

  • The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child.
  • The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time (which isn’t based on substantiated abuse).
  • The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings.
  • The child’s preference, when the child has the intellectual capacity to make such a decision.
  • The child’s needs.
  • The stability of the home environment offered by the parents.
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education.
  • The parents’ fitness to exercise custody.
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes.
  • The extent and quality of the time spent with the child before or after the separation.
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities.
  • The age and number of the children.

The court’s goal is to foster a loving and nurturing relationship between both parents and the children, while also strongly encouraging communication and cooperation between the parents.

What Types of Custody Arrangements Are There?

To that end, four basic concepts of custody have been devised: joint custody, sole custody, legal custody and physical custody. The first two concepts are relatively straightforward. Legal custody refers to the right of one or both parents to make major decisions affecting a child. Physical custody indicates with whom the child primarily resides. In New Jersey, these concepts are not mutually exclusive. The most common arrangement is joint legal custody with one parent having sole physical custody, but there are countless permutations. Sometimes parents may even agree to share legal custody over some matters but not others.

Can Custody Agreements Be Modified?

Decisions are not set in stone. The following can lead to a modification of the custody arrangement: immediate danger to the child, physical relocation and ignoring the current visitation schedule. The courts encourage parents to engage in mediation and arbitration but failure to work out a mutually-acceptable agreement may lead to a new child custody proceeding. Don’t go it alone, contact a skilled Ocean County family law attorney today.

Contact our experienced Ocean City firm

Matters of divorce and family law require the attention and skill of an experienced attorney who will fight for your future. Not only is your financial well-being at stake, but in a divorce, both you and your children’s emotional well-being are at risk as well. If you need a divorce and family law attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC today to schedule a consultation.