In this article, you can discover:
- An overview of how Child Custody laws in New jersey may impact your case
- Whether children can choose who they want to live with
- How child support amounts are calculated in New Jersey
How Is Custody Determined In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, two forms of custody exist: legal custody and residential custody. “Legal Custody” is used when discussing a parent’s authority concerning major decisions which affect a child’s health, education, safety and welfare. Unless there is a parental defect (alcoholism, drug abuse, etc.), legal custody is usually something that is usually “joint”, meaning both parents must discuss, confer, and agree on matters such as education, major medical care decisions, and religious affiliation for the child. If parents cannot reach an agreement on something that requires a “joint” agreement, court assistance may be sought by either parent.
On the other hand, “Residential Custody” is awarded to the parent with whom the child will primarily reside, and who will be responsible for providing daily meals, clothing, medical care along with other daily needs.
If either Legal Custody or Residential Custody are litigated, the court will apply a multi-faceted approach called the “Best Interest Standard” test to make a determination for the parents since they are not able to reach an agreement between themselves.
This analysis, among other things, takes into account the child’s needs, the stability of the home environment, the quality and continuity of education, the fitness of the parent, and the child’s preference once they are old enough to make an informed decision.
Is There Ever An Age Where A Child Can Decide Who They Will Live With?
Ordinarily, children under the age of 13 are not interviewed by Superior Court judges as most judges believe the “Best Interest Standard” test will be more reliable than the wishes of a child under the age of 13 give their probable level of immaturity. With that said, the Court will often bring a child into the courthouse to be interviewed when that child is between the ages of 13 and 17 and interview them about where they would like to reside and why they have this position. The child’s position will be considered by the judge so long as the child possess the capacity to make a reasonable decision which will be based on their answers. When the child reaches the age of 17 or close to it, their preference will usually be given greater weight. In such cases, the Court will ordinarily allow the move to happen so long the other parent’s home is a stable environment and the parent has the ability to meet the child’s needs.
Who Will Be Responsible For Child Support When Parents Are Divorcing?
In a divorce, there is ordinarily a designation of a Parent of Primary Residence (PPR) and a Parent of Alternate Residence (PAR). This is often accompanied by an arrangement where the Parent of Primary Residence has a greater amount of parenting time, resulting in the Parent of Alternate Residence paying child support to the Parent of Primary Residence due to their housing arrangement.
How Is The Amount Of Child Support Determined In New Jersey?
New Jersey’s Child Support is calculated by taking into account various factors, such as:
- Each parent’s income,
- The number of children to be supported,
- Each parent’s share of overnights with the children an actual overnight or when then PAR had their child for 12 hours or more any particular day,
- Alimony payments or receipts,
- Other children born outside the marriage,
- Healthcare contributions,
- Mandatory retirement plan contributions,
- Any physical, mental, or emotional needs that require extra financial support from the parents,
- And more…
The court and the attorneys use the New Jersey Child Support Guideline Worksheets to consider all of these elements. If you have children with greater needs, such as being involved in costly extracurricular activities, it is possible that child support guidelines can take this into account. For example, if one of the parents took on the responsibility of paying for the child’s swimming lessons or ice time at a local rink, this could lead to the parents modifying the level child support being paid by the on behalf of the child. This is due to the higher level of money spent on extracurricular activities.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Family Law Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.
For more information on Family Law in New Jersey, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 365-3299 today.