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How Does Child Custody Work in the State of New Jersey?

In New Jersey, there is no single approach to child custody as all families carry unique circumstances. Various factors will play into decisions regarding custody arrangements, including each parent’s previous relationship with their child, each parent’s work schedules, as well as the child’s educational, medical and psychological needs. The parents of the child may make custody arrangements and decisions themselves, or in some instances, the court may decide. The ability to assess your spouse’s position and to devise an appropriate strategy for resolving your child custody matter is essential. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, L.L.C., have the skill and sophistication to handle the most complex child custody issues, while remaining attentive to the emotional toll that this process can take on you and your children.

Physical Child Custody and Legal Child Custody

There are two aspects of custody in New Jersey. Physical custody is where the child will spend their time. Legal custody determines which parent is responsible for making decisions regarding medical care, education, and religion, on behalf of the child.

Joint Custody v. Sole Custody

With joint custody, the child generally alternates their time equally between both parents. Sole custody is when the child lives with only one parent and has the potential for visitation with the other parent. Ultimately, custody arrangements, whether found by the court or the parents, will consider the best interests of the child.

When will a court deem a parent unfit?

Parents are encouraged to work out their own parenting time schedule and may be subject to court approval. However, there are some instances where a court may lean towards sole physical and legal custody. If a child’s arrangement with their parent is harmful to the child’s well-being, the court can deem the parent unfit for custody. A parent may be found unfit if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, mental disturbance, and/or other issues that can put the child at physical and/or emotional risk.

Do unmarried couples have custody rights?

In New Jersey, marriage is not always a precondition to a child custody requirement. Couples that are not married generally have the same custody rights as couples that are married. However, in some cases, paternity must be established. This step is usually non-controversial and can be established through the father recording his name on the child’s birth certificate as a way to initiate an introduction to custodial or parental rights. If there are disputes between the unmarried couple, a court may intervene.

Contact our experienced New Jersey firm

If you have any questions regarding your family law matter, you can depend on our legal team to fight for your best interests, every step of the way. Contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C. today to learn more about how our legal team can assist you.