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Under New Jersey law, all parents have equal rights to custody and visitation with their child(ren). The law does not inherently favor either parent, and the standards for establishing child custody in New Jersey afford the same opportunities to both the mother and the father. However, applying New Jersey’s “best interests” factors can (and often will) result in an unequal division of parenting time; and, in order to secure the parenting rights you desire, it is important to work with an experienced New Jersey visitation attorney.
Parents can have different types of custody and visitation arrangements based on what best suits their children’s needs. The most common type of custody situation is joint legal custody. This means both parties have equal say in the care and upbringing of their child(ren).
But, even in these joint custody situations, there is only one parent that is considered the custodial parent, also known as the parent of primary residence. When one parent is the parent of primary residence, this means that the children reside with one parent most of the time and have visitation with the other parent.
The visitation rights of the other parent are usually reached by agreement. The schedule can vary based on the schedules and needs of all parties involved. The court considers a variety of factors in determining the best visitation schedule for the children. Some of the key factors include the children’s school schedule, the proximity of the parents to one another, the parents’ work schedule and visitation with step-siblings. Under New Jersey’s “best interests” guidelines, additional factors that can be relevant to establishing parental visitation rights during a separation or divorce include:
If separating or divorcing parents cannot reach an agreement with regard to visitation, then they will need to ask a New Jersey family court judge to make a decision for them. A New Jersey visitation attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. can help you work to negotiate a mutually-agreeable parenting plan, and our attorneys can represent you in court if necessary. When seeking visitation rights (or seeking primary custody with a custody and visitation schedule), it is often necessary to take steps in advance to prepare, and our attorneys can work with you to ensure that you are in the best possible position to secure your desired parenting rights.
In addition to non-custodial parents, in certain circumstances non-parents can be awarded child visitation rights in New Jersey as well. This is most common in circumstances in which grandparents desire to obtain the legal right to see and spend time with their grandchildren. Non-parent visitation rights may also be awarded to a sibling who wishes to maintain a relationship with a brother or sister who is a minor.
Non-parent visitation rights are addressed in Section 9:2-7.1 of the New Jersey Code:
“A grandparent or any sibling of a child residing in [New Jersey] may make application before the Superior Court, in accordance with the Rules of Court, for an order for visitation. It shall be the burden of the applicant to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the granting of visitation is in the best interests of the child. . . . [I]t shall be prima facie evidence that visitation is in the child's best interest if the applicant had, in the past, been a full-time caretaker for the child.”
In non-parent visitation cases, the “best interests” factors differ from those involved in parental custody and visitation matters. As outlined in Section 9:2-7.1, these factors include (but are not limited to):
At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., our New Jersey family lawyers and divorce attorneys can assist you in getting your visitation rights and/or determining what the best visitation schedule is for you and your children. We approach each case with the unique attention and care that it deserves. To discuss your situation with one of our attorneys in confidence, please call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.