Child custody laws are an important concern for any divorcing parents. Understanding child custody laws in New Jersey can help parents anticipate what to expect from the process and how to reach a child custody agreement that works for them.
To begin with, it is important to understand that there are two primary types of child custody. Physical custody is one type of child custody which refers to who the child will reside with and legal custody is the second type of custody which refers to who will have the legal right to make important decisions for the child such as those related to their education, medical care and religion. Either type of custody can be awarded as sole custody or joint custody. When determining if custody should be shared, the family law court will examine the ability of the parents to cooperate, communicate and work together.
Child custody decisions are always based on what is in the best interests of the child. In New Jersey, the family law court will consider several factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Factors include the interaction of the child with parents and children; the fitness of the parents; the stability of the home environment; the employment responsibilities of the parents; and the preference of the child if the child is 12 years old or older. Additionally, any history of domestic violence in the home will be treated seriously when considering child custody.
When determining child custody during a divorce, parents are encouraged to work together as much as possible to reach a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child and works best for the family. As a result, divorcing parents should be familiar with the process and remain focused throughout on what is in the best interests of the child.