For divorcing parents, their highest priority is child custody. After all, even after a divorce, parents are still parents, and the wellbeing of their children is still the most important thing. And, as many parents believe they are the parental experts, child custody battles can quickly ensue during a divorce. But, how does child custody actually work in our state?
Our state’s child custody laws are fairly straight forward, and if one knows general child custody laws, their assumptions are likely right as New Jersey law mirrors much of the same as other states. Though, there are a few differences that parents should understand.
Physical and legal custody refers to the two types of child custody here. As the name implies, physical custody means where the child or children physically reside. But, there are two types of physical custody, joint and sole. Joint custody refers to a parenting arraignment where both parents split time with the child equally. This could be to alternate weeks, combine schedule, alternate holidays, etc. On the other hand, sole custody means that the child primarily resides with one parents, and the other parent has regularly scheduled visits. The amount of time the other parent gets with the child is determined by the parents and judge.
The other type of child custody is legal custody. Legal custody refers to which parent is empowered to make decisions for the child. These decisions include educational, medical, religion, etc. Like physical custody, legal custody is has two components. It can be either joint or sole. In joint legal custody, the parents share in the decision-making process equally, with neither parent having ultimate control. Sole legal custody empowers one parent to be the final decision maker, but of course, they can still consult the other parent.
New Jersey family courts lien toward both joint physical and legal custody as, usually, this is in the best interests of the child. And, this offers the child the best path to maintaining a relationship with their parents. This is known as 50/50 custody. Of course, this is only an overview, and specific questions should be directed to an attorney.