New Jersey has child custody laws that you should know if you’re going through a divorce. It’s unlikely that one parent will have sole custody over the children because New Jersey favors 50/50 agreements.
Two components of child custody
New Jersey courts will make a decision on physical custody and legal custody of children. Physical child custody is with whom the child lives, and legal custody is which parent has the legal authority to make decisions for the child, such as where they go to school and where they receive medical care.
It’s possible and likely for both parents to share physical and legal custody. This is joint custody. Judges must do what’s in the best interest of the child, and seeing both of their parents equally is in the best interest of the child unless one of the parents is unfit.
History of domestic violence plays a major role in child custody decisions. A parent who has a history of domestic violence might only be able to see their child under supervised visitation. Other factors considered are parents’ employment responsibilities, quality of the existing parent-child relationship and stability of the home environment. If the child is 12 or older, then the judge might consider their preference as well.
In New Jersey, grandparents have the option of requesting visitation rights. The judge will likely grant visitation rights if they are in the best interest of the child.
Parents can submit their own parenting schedule to the court for approval. This schedule outlines the guidelines for where the child will stay. There are several different ways of dividing the time to work for different lifestyles and preferences. Examples of schedules are alternating weeks, two weeks alternating and weeks where parents switch every two or three days. A 2-2-3 schedule would be ideal for young children because they have difficulty being away from one parent for too long.
There are a lot of child custody laws in place in New Jersey to protect children and ensure fairness to parents and grandparents. You should know what the laws are to avoid surprises and to follow the law as you work out custody issues.