When it comes to custody matters, there is no one-size-fits-all. Every family's situation is unique, which means each family requires a custom custody plan that works for them and is in the children's best interests. Child custody arrangements in New Jersey require two parts - physical and legal custody. Our Somerset County family law attorneys are here to explain the differences between the two.
Child Custody in New Jersey
When considering your options for custody, it's crucial to understand that there are two types of custody in New Jersey:
- Physical custody is where your child will reside.
- Legal custody is the power to make decisions regarding how your child will be raised and cared for.
Within each type of custody, there are several options to choose from depending on your family's circumstances. Learning about the options New Jersey provides and educating yourself on the advantages and disadvantages of each is essential when faced with a child custody case. This is especially true if you want to establish an arrangement that sets both you and your children up for success in the future.
What Child Custody Options are Available in New Jersey?
There are several options available under each type of custody. For both legal custody and physical custody, it can be shared jointly or solely.
Joint Legal Custody—In this type of arrangement, both parents can actively participate in their child's life, and it is the most common option for parents to choose. With joint legal custody, one parent will serve as the primary residential custodian for the child, while the other parent will serve as the alternate. In this type of custody arrangement, both parents are responsible for making joint decisions for their children regarding major issues on subjects such as the child's health, education, and general welfare.
Typically, the primary custodial parent is responsible for making day-to-day decisions but will consult with or notify the non-custodial parent on significant matters. Essentially, whichever parent has the child in their care at the time is responsible for making decisions that are in the child's best interests.
Joint Physical Custody—When both parents want the child to live with them, they have the option to share physical custody jointly. There are several custody schedules that can be used in joint legal custody. This could be anything from a child spending the night twice a week with one parent to the child staying half the year with each parent. Parents must agree to the schedule if they are making it themselves. If parents cannot agree, the court will step in and determine the best schedule.
The parent that provides a residence to the child for more than 50% of overnights per year or provides the residence for them while they are in school is the "Parent of Primary Residence" (PPR). The other parent is the
"Parent of Alternative Residence" (PAR). It's crucial that this designation is made for school enrollment purposes, as well as it can affect how child support is calculated.
Sole Legal and Physical Custody—With this type of custody, only one parent is the residential custodial parent. This means the designated parent has the responsibility of making all major decisions for the child (health, education, and welfare) as well as the day-to-day decisions without the need of consulting or notifying the other parent.
Because shared custody is typically in the best interests of the child, sole legal or physical custody is usually only recommended in cases where one parent is deemed unfit for custody, is absent from the child's life, or there is a history of child neglect, drug addiction, or abuse.
Which Option is Best?
Handling child custody issues can be an overwhelming and emotional experience. To determine which option is best for you and your family's circumstances, it's in your best interests to speak to one of our Somerset County child custody attorneys at DeTommaso Law Group, LLC. Our team will work with you to identify your needs, help you understand your options, and guide you through the process.
After reviewing your case, our skilled family law attorney will advise you on the best strategy to address even the most complicated of custody issues, all while making sure your children's best interests are the first priority. After determining which option is best, we will assist you with crafting a parenting time plan that takes into consideration various factors, including:
- Work schedules
- Child care needs
- Anything else that might impact your custody schedule
Regardless of which New Jersey child custody option is best for your family, our team will work to protect your rights and safeguard your child's welfare. Call us today at (908) 274-3028 to schedule a consultation.