The most straightforward way to get custody of your kids is to hire an experienced family lawyer.
In a divorce, parents are typically most worried about what will happen to their children.
Because they want to remain as involved as possible, they often seek “full custody” of their children.
Read on to learn more about child custody in New Jersey.
Legal and Physical Custody
New Jersey divides custody between legal custody and physical custody. A parent may have one, none, or both.
Legal custody refers to your ability to make leal decisions for your child, such as where they attend school, when they get medical care, and whether they participate in extracurricular activities. If you have legal custody, then you absolutely get a say.
By contrast, physical custody refers to your child living with you in your home and under your direct supervision.
Custody Can be Joint, Shared, or Sole
New Jersey law strives to involve both parents in their children’s lives. To that end, you might get joint legal custody in which both parents have a say in important decision making. It can also mean that parents split physical custody 50/50 with the child going back and forth between their parent’s houses.
However, a 50/50 split is often unrealistic. One spouse invariably moves away to pursue new job opportunities or romantic relationships. Even moving an hour away tends to undermine 50/50 custody arrangements since children simply cannot travel that far to get to school several days a week. However, with proper planning, children can spend a substantial amount of time with each parent. One parent is the “parent of primary residence” and the other is the “parent of alternate residence.” Both parents are entitled to parenting time. We call this a “shared” custody arrangement.
Under sole custody, only one parent has legal custody. They make all of the decisions for the child, without input from the other parent. The other parent sometimes gets limited supervised visitation. Sole custody is very rare in New Jersey. The only way to completely cut off a parent is to show that they are unfit—typically meaning they are abusive, addicted to drugs, or a danger to the child.
Reviewing Physical Custody Arrangements
When thinking about physical custody, it is important to be as precise as possible about what you want. Don’t get hung up on labels like “full custody.” Some clients think that “full custody” means that the children will live with them most of the time.
It is certainly possible to come up with this arrangement. As mentioned above, a 50/50 split is difficult for many parents to pull off for any length of time. In practice, the children tend to live with one parent during the school year. The other parent gets a couple months in the summer as well as school vacations and holidays throughout the year. Think specifically about how often you want to be with your children.
On the other hand, if you worry that the other parent is a danger to your children, then you might want sole physical and legal custody. This requires different evidence.
Speak with a New Jersey Family Law Attorney
Child custody determinations require detailed planning. Attorney Jordan B. Rickards has helped many divorcing parents get the custody arrangements they want. To schedule a free consultation, please contact him today.