One of the most difficult aspects of a New Jersey divorce is settling on what type of child custody arrangement will be best for all parties concerned. While the courts will always place the best interests of the children first, a holistic approach to child custody that takes into account how the arrangement will affect the whole family is encouraged.
Joint legal child custody encourages both parents to remain active participants in their children’s lives, despite the fact that they have divorced. It is the most common type of child custody arrangement in New Jersey. Once parent usually serves as the primary residential custodian of the child but both parents make decisions together on important issues such as health and education. Day-to-day routine decisions are made by the primary custodial parent but the alternate custodial parent has relative autonomy in decision-making as well concerning issues that arise when the child is with them.
Instances of shared legal and physical custody are on the rise as parents opt for a more equal division of parenting time and responsibilities. Under this arrangement the parents work out a schedule where the children spend equal time at each parent’s home. Arrangement can be alternating weeks with each parent or 4 days with one parent and three days with the other, or whatever works for the family.
With a sole legal and physical custody scenario, one parent is the residential custody parent and makes all the major decisions regarding the children’s health, education and welfare. He or she does not need to consult with the other parent. Sole custody is ordered where it is in the best interest of the children to be cared for exclusively by the custodial parent. While it is not always the case, often sole legal and physical custody occurs where there has been some form of neglect or a finding that the noncustodial parent is unfit or absent.
Often, emotions run high during divorce proceedings and child custody disagreements can make the situation even more stressful for all concerned. Relying on the experience of seasoned New Jersey family lawyers to guide you can be a big help. The right child custody attorney will help you understand all of your options and work with you to reach a divorce and child custody result that will benefit all concerned.