New Jersey Child Custody Attorneys
Custody Lawyers Protecting Your Right to Parenting Time in NJ
Any divorce is challenging, but when children are involved, the process can become even more complicated. This is especially true when it comes to custody and parenting time, which can affect the lives of the children for years to come.
At DeTommaso Law Group, LLC, our child custody lawyers in Somerset County and Morris County, NJ work hard to help parents achieve the right custody arrangement for their situation. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect our clients’ rights as parents and for their family.
Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced child custody attorneys in Somerset County. Call (908) 274-3028 now. We serve clients in Morris County, Middlesex County, Hunterdon County, Union County, and throughout New Jersey.
Meet Our NJ Custody Lawyers
Legal and Physical Custody
As you start navigating your child custody dispute, it's important to understand the different types of custody:
- Legal custody determines a parent's ability to make decisions for their child, such as the medical care they receive, what school they attend, etc.;
- Physical custody determines a parent's ability to house their child.
Whichever parent houses the child a majority of the time is called the "custodial" parent, while the other parent is the "noncustodial" parent. Custodial parents gain certain benefits, such as head-of-household tax breaks, that noncustodial parents don't receive.
During custody cases, the parents can either work together to draft a parenting plan, or rely on the court to develop one on their behalf. The parenting plan details how the parents share physical and legal custody during the school year and summer vacation, over holidays, and establishes behavioral boundaries and parenting guidelines the parents must abide by.
If you agree with your co-parent on how to handle custody, you may be able to draft a parenting plan together. If a court approves of your joint parenting plan, it can sign it, finalizing your custody arrangement and closing your custody case.
Otherwise, you may need to attend a court hearing with your co-parent. After listening to both parents, the court will develop a custody plan it considers equitable on the parents' behalf.
Types of Custody Arrangements
There are two types of common custody arrangements:
- Joint custody. In a joint custody arrangement, the child spends time living with both parents and both have physical and legal custody rights, although the child may spend more time with one parent than the other.
- Sole custody. In a sole custody arrangement, only one parent gets physical and legal custody rights. The child lives with that parent, although the parent may still be able to obtain visitation rights.
In any given custody case, the court's primary concern is the child's best interests. For that reason, many courts default to joint custody arrangements under the assumption it's best for a child to spend time with each parent.
However, suppose a parent proves themselves "unfit," typically due to an issue such as domestic violence or substance abuse. In that case, the court may award the other parent sole custody rights and restrict the unfit parent to either having visitation rights or being unable to see their child.
- Related Reading: "Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting: Which Is Best?"
Modifying & Enforcing Custody
Circumstances may arise that require a child custody agreement to be modified or enforced. As the custodial parent, you may need to request modification of your custody order because you need to relocate for work. As the non-custodial parent, you may need to ask the court to enforce a custody order if the custodial parent is wrongfully barring you from seeing your child.
Protecting Father’s Rights in Somerset County
Parents enjoy a special relationship with their children. The bond that a dad shares with his child is just as important as the intimate relationship the child has with his or her mother. In order to serve the best interests of the child, New Jersey has laws that protect the child’s relationship with his or her father.
If you are the legal father of your child, you have the same parental rights as the child’s mother. There is no preference shown to mothers and both parents are given equal consideration. Sometimes the courts may determine that the father can provide a more stable living environment than the mother. Mothers tend to receive full custody as it is often easier for mothers to make a case to the courts that having full custody is in the child's best interests.
How Does the Court Determine Child Custody?
The court will make its decision about child custody by considering:
- The child’s needs
- The stability of each parent’s living environment
- Each parent’s fitness as a parent
- Any history of domestic violence
- The safety of the child from physical abuse
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate regarding parenting issues
- The child’s interaction and relationship with his or her parents or siblings
- The preference of the child, when he or she is old enough to make a decision
- The distance between the parent’s residences
- Each parent’s job responsibilities
- The age and number of children the couple has together
- The extent and quality of time parents have spent with their children
- The quality of the child’s education
Here's a specific example regarding the rights of choosing the right preschool for your child. The Court holds that when a child attends pre-school as a form of work-related daycare, and the parents cannot agree on which pre-school a child should attend, the primary residential custodian generally has the initial right to make the selection.
If the non-custodial parent objects to the choice of pre-school, he or she has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the choice is unreasonable under the circumstances and contrary to the child’s best interests.
Depending on your situation, you may or may not wish to be the custodial parent (the parent that the child lives with). Regardless of how much time you want to spend with your child, a New Jersey child custody attorney from our skilled team can help you remain in your child’s life.
Moving Away / Relocating with Custody in NJ
Following a divorce, it is not uncommon for one of the spouses to want to move out of the state. If your ex-spouse is trying to move far away with your child, it is important to remember that relocation issues, as with all child custody disputes, in the best interest of the child. At DeTommaso Law Group, LLC, we work to protect the rights of parents and children in Somerset County and Morris County, NJ.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in NJ – (908) 274-3028
DeTommaso Law Group, LLC has the experience and skill needed to protect your parental rights, as well as the best interests of your child in a custody case. Find out how a parenting time lawyer from our dedicated team can be your advocates and fight for the best possible results.
Reach out to DeTommaso Law Group, LLC today at (908) 274-3028 to discuss your case with our child custody lawyers in Somerset County, NJ. From our office in Warren, we also serve Morris County and all of New Jersey.