Child Custody Is Composed Of:
- Legal Custody: Parent/s has reasonability decisions concerning the child’s health, education, and welfare. Ordinarily, parents share Joint Legal Custody.
- Physical/Residential Custody: pertains to where the child resides.
Custody is one of the most the single most complicated issues in the Family Court if parties cannot make a custody determination. If that is the case, a list of statutory factors the Court must consider is below:
- The parent’s ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child.
- The parent’s willingness to accept custody.
- Any history of unwillingness to allow visitation not based on substantiated abuse.
- The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings.
- The history of domestic violence, if any.
- The safety of the child.
- The safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other party.
- The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision.
- The needs of the child.
- The stability of the home environment offered.
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education.
- The fitness of the parents.
- The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes.
- The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation.
- The age and number of the children.
- The parents’ employment responsibilities.
Custody Categories in New Jersey
- Sole Custody: very rare, one spouse (Husband or Wife) is awarded legal and residential custody of child/ren
- Joint Legal Custody: both parents have a role in major decisions (health and education). One parent is designated Parent of Primary Residence while the other is the Parent of Alternate Residence. In this scenario, a parenting plan is crafted to ensure both parties have time with their children.
- True Shared Physical Custody: when both parents have equal time with the child/ren. Parent’s schedules and flexibilities must allow or accommodate this form of custody.
Some of The Factors Courts Consider When Determining Best Interests Of A Child
- Which residence can provide for a better education?
- Which residence can provide “better” living conditions?
- Whether or not there is a history of Domestic Violence?
- Which party is more nurturing?
- Fitness of parents?
- Whether or not there are siblings?
- Preference of child (if the child is old enough, and not a determining factor)?
- Where will the child have the best chance for advancement?