Child custody is one of the most important matters determined in divorce in New Jersey or anywhere else. Depending on the circumstances, the court might order a specific type of custody to both parents or to one while the other parent gets visitation. These are the types of child custody.
Legal custody gives one or both parents the right to make all decisions on behalf of the child. Parents with legal custody can decide on the child’s medical care, education, religious matters and even extracurricular activities. If the court awards this type of custody to a parent, it’s considered sole legal custody. Depending on the situation, the other parent might have visitation rights.
If the child lives with one parent daily, it’s considered sole physical custody. Sometimes, both parents share it and have joint physical custody while the child splits their time living at both parents’ homes. However, just because parents share physical custody, it doesn’t necessarily mean equal 50/50 parenting time. For example, the child might spend five days per week at their mother’s home but the other two days at their father’s home.
Sole custody means that one parent alone has custody of the child. This usually occurs when the court determines that the other parent is unfit and poses a danger to the child. In some cases, that parent might still be granted visitation.
Joint custody means that both parents share custody of their child. Some parents are granted joint legal or joint physical custody of their children. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights to make decisions on their child’s welfare. Joint physical custody means the child alternates their time living with each parent.
The court decides on child custody based on what’s in the child’s best interests.