Child Custody

  • Child custody is composed of:

 1.Legal Custody:  Parent/s has reasonability decisions concerning the child’s health, education and welfare. Ordinarily, parents share Joint Legal Custody.
 2.Physical/Residential Custody: pertains to where the child resides
Custody is one of the most the single most complicated issues in the Family Court if parties cannot make a custody determination. If that is the case, a list of statutory factors the Court must consider is below:

N.J.S.A. 9:2-4c:

  1. The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the
    child.
  2. The parents’ willingness to accept custody.
  3. Any history of unwillingness to allow visitation not based on substantiated abuse.
  4. The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings.
  5. The history of domestic violence, if any.
  6. The safety of the child.
  7. The safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other party.
  8. The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision.
  9. The needs of the child.
  10. The stability of the home environment offered.
  11. The quality and continuity of the child’s education.
  12. The fitness of the parents.
  13. The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes.
  14. The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation.
  15. The age and number of the children.
  16. The parents’ employment responsibilities.
  • Custody Categories in New Jersey:
    1. Sole Custody: very rare, one spouse (Husband or Wife) is awarded legal and residential custody of child/ren
    2. Joint Legal Custody: both parents have a role in major decisions (health and education). One parent is designated Parent of  Primary Residence while the other is the Parent of Alternate Residence. In this scenario, a parenting plan is crafted to ensure both parties have time with their children.
    3. True Shared Physical Custody:  when both parents have equal time with the child/ren. Parent’s schedules and flexibilities must allow or accommodate this form of custody.

Some of The Factors Courts Consider When Determining Best Interests Of A Child:

  • Which residence can provide for a better education?
  • Which residence can provide “better” living conditions?
  • Whether or not there is a history of Domestic Violence?
  • Which party is more nurturing?
  • Fitness of parents?
  • Whether or not there are siblings?
  • Preference of child (if child is old enough, and not a determining factor)?
  • Where will the child have the best chance for advancement?