Five Facts About NJ Child Custody Laws

Child custody represents one of the more complex and highly contested elements of many divorce cases. With that in mind, it is important for a person contemplating ending a marriage to have a basic understanding of the five most essential facts about child custody. You should consult an experienced New Jersey child custody lawyer.

Two Different Types of Custody Under NJ Child Custody Laws

There are two different types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody represents the legal ability of a parent to maintain a residence for a minor child. Legal custody is the right of a parent to make major life decisions on behalf of a minor child. Major life decisions refer to significant matters that include healthcare, religion, and education.

Joint Versus Sole Custody Under Child Custody Laws in New Jersey

Physical and legal custody can be exercised in a number of different ways. Two common types of physical and legal custody are joint and sole. Joint custody is when both parents exercise some manner of a custodial right, whether it is physical or legal. In sole custody, only one parent has the right to custody.

Preference for Joint Custody Under NJ Child Custody Laws  

Overall, public policy maintains a preference that both parents remain involved in the life of a minor child in the aftermath of a divorce. Therefore, there tends to be a preference for joint legal custody, which permits both parents involvement in decision making for child.

Custody and the Desires of Minor Child in New Jersey

State laws vary regarding when and how a minor child can express a preference regarding custody arrangements. This usually involves the matter of where the child wants to reside. Some states consider a child's emotional maturity in custody determinations. If a child has the emotional maturity to understand the custody process, a judge is likely to consider his or her wishes when making a custody determination. Some states establish an age-related set of guidelines regarding when and to what degree a child's wishes are considered in the matter. Technically, however, a child's preference is never absolute when it comes to a custody determination.

Best Interests of a Child Under NJ Child Custody Laws

The standard applied by a court in making a custody decision is what is in the best interests of a child. This determination is made on a case-by-case basis, considering a variety of factors. These include which parent has been the child's primary caretaker and the overall physical and mental health of the parents and child. Custody issues are challenging. Therefore, a party facing such a matter is advised to retain the services of a skilled, capable New Jersey child custody lawyer.

Peter Van Aulen is a divorce and family law attorney with years of experience. Also, Mr. Van Aulen has been certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a matrimonial attorney. If you are facing a divorce, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen today for a free initial in office consultation with a New Jersey child custody lawyer.

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