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Seven Frequently Asked Questions About New Jersey Child Custody

If you are a parent involved in New Jersey divorce proceedings, you likely have an array of questions about a number is key issues. These likely include questions about New Jersey child custody. Seven of the most common questions on this subject are:

If Parents Cannot Agree, How Does a Court Determine Custody in a Divorce?

If parents are unable to reach a decision between themselves regarding child custody, determining custody, parenting time, and related issues then becomes an issue for the court. A court utilizes what is known as the best interests of a child standard in making custodial decisions in a divorce case.

The best interests of a child standard requires a court to weigh and balance a number of factors when working to determine how custody should be arranged in a specific case. Examples of factors include:

  • Consideration of which parent has been the primary caretaker of a child
  • Overall physical, mental, and emotional health of the parents
  • Residential situation of the parents
  • Age of child or children
  • Whether there is more than one child in the family

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What Is the Difference Between Legal and Residential (Or Physical) Custody?

Both legal and residential (or physical) custody are established in a divorce case. Legal custody is the designation of a parent (or both parents acting jointly) to make decisions on major life issues for a minor child. Major life decisions include such matters as:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Religion

Residential or physical custody is the determination of where a child will live during and after a divorce and how a child will spend time with both parents.

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What Are Possible New Jersey Child Custody Arrangements?

Statutes governing child custody in New Jersey provide for a number of different types of custodial arrangements when a divorce case involves a child or children. These include:

  • Sole residential or physical custody
  • Shared residential or physical custody
  • Custody based on primary and alternate residences

In additional, legal custody can be shared by both parents or one parent can be granted sole legal custody.

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What Is Parenting Time?

Parenting time is the time which a child spends with a noncustodial in a divorce case. Parenting time should be regular and recurring. It is designed to ensure that a meaningful relation exists between a noncustodial parent and a child or children.

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What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written scheme setting forth certain issues associated with a child or children in a situation in which parents are divorcing. A parenting plan addresses a variety of issues that include child custody, parenting time, and other issues directly bearing upon a child or children in a divorce setting.

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Can Child Custody Be Changed at a Later Time?

A child custody arrangement or child custody order can be altered, amended, or changed at a later juncture in time. Parents can agree to alter an existing custody arrangement. Such an agreement will need to be approved by the court and made a part of a new or amended custody order.

If the parents cannot agree on a change that one parent does desire, a court ultimately will be the decisionmaker. A change will need to be determined to be in the best interests of the child or children.

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Do a Child’s Desires Play Into a Custody Determination?

New Jersey child custody law does permit a minor to make his or her desires known in regard to where he or she will live in some circumstances. A court will take a child’s custody desires into consideration if a child has reached an age and a level of emotional maturity at which a minor has developed reasonable decision making abilities.

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If you are planning on divorcing your spouse, or if you are otherwise heading into a divorce case, call (201) 845-7400.

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Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

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