Spanish and Arabic translation available | 

How is Child Custody Determined in New Jersey?

When parents get divorced, they often worry about the impact it will have on their children. Child custody is one of the most important decisions to make during a divorce. Because it can be incredibly difficult to agree upon what is best for the child, many parents leave the decision in the hands of the court. Read on to learn more about how New Jersey courts determine child custody.

What are the Different Types of Custody in New Jersey?

There are two types of custody in New Jersey:

  • Physical Custody
    • Physical custody is awarded to the parent with whom the child will reside for more of the time. This parent will be responsible for the child more of the time and provide a home, stability, food, clothes, etc. In some situations, custody can be shared equally by both parents or guardians.
  • Legal Custody
    • When a parent has legal custody, he or she has the right to make important decisions in the child’s life. These decisions may include choices about academics, religion, medical issues, etc. A parent does not have to have physical custody to have legal custody.  One or both parents may have legal custody.

In rare cases, a parent may be deemed unfit. If this occurs, the fit parent will be awarded sole custody. This does not happen often as New Jersey courts believe that a child benefits from having a relationship with both parents. If a parent loses custody, he or she may still be able to gain visitation rights and eventually gain back custody.

How is Custody Determined?

There are many factors that go into determining custody. In order to make the best decision for the child, the court will examine the following factors:

  • Each party’s ability to provide stability
  • Whether the parent will act in the child’s best interests
  • The relationship between the child and the parent
  • The physical health and safety of the child
  • The needs of the child
  • The location and proximity of each parent’s home
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age

If you have any questions or concerns regarding child custody in New Jersey, contact our firm today. We are here to advocate for you and your family. Reach out to speak with a dedicated family law attorney.


If you need an experienced legal team to guide you through your divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C today.