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Family Law: Child Custody

New Jersey Child Custody Attorneys

Custody (512)

New Jersey child custody laws protect the welfare of the child. Under child custody laws, the family courts have jurisdiction over child custody cases. Either joint or sole custody can be awarded to the parent(s), and the primary guideline is the best interests of the child. The court may award one of three types of custody arrangements: joint legal custody to both parents, where one parent is responsible for residential custody; joint physical custody, where both parents provide homes for the child; or sole custody to one parent with parenting time, allowed to the non-custodial parent.

In awarding joint legal custody, the judge allows both parents to share responsibilities for decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child. Physical, or residential, custody includes legal custody, but also specifies that  the child live in the residence of one of the parents with scheduled parenting time with the other parent.

In determining what custody arrangement works best for the child and the parents, the court considers all the relevant facts such as parent-child relationship, including the ages of the children and the number of children, the stability of the home, the parents' fitness, and how much time each parent spent with the child before the separation. . While New Jersey courts may favor the parent who provided primary care, if the child demonstrates appropriate maturity, his or her desires are taken into consideration.

Custody is a very emotional issue for many clients and can often be the most contentious issue between two parties. 

In New Jersey, each parent has an equal right to custody of his/her child(ren).  Often times, Courts will award joint custody of the child(ren) to both parties. Yet the Court will award only one parent as the parent of primary residence (i.e. parent with whom children reside the majority of the time) and the other parent will receive parenting time. 

The Court makes a determination of child custody based on a variety of statutory factors but the ultimate concern for the Court is the “best interest of the child”.  These factors include:

  1. Parents' ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in child-related matters;
  2. Parents' willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow visitation not based on substantiated abuse;
  3. Interactions and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings;
  4. History of domestic violence, if any;
  5. Safety of child and safety of either parent from physical abuse by other parent;
  6. Preference of child, when of sufficient age  and capacity to reason, so as to form an intelligent decision;
  7. Needs of child;
  8. Stability of home environment offered by each parent;
  9. Quality and continuity of child's education;
  10. Fitness of parents;
  11. Geographic proximity of parents' homes;
  12. Extent and quality of time spent with a child prior to and subsequent to separation;
  13. Parents' employment responsibilities; and
  14. Number and ages of children.

The family law lawyers at Helmer, Conley, & Kasselman, PA, are experienced in working with parents to obtain the best possible custody situation for their children. 


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