Need a Child Custody Lawyer in New Jersey?

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How Is Child Custody Determined in NJ?

Couple with their child talking to a lawyer

In the wake of splitting up with a partner or spouse, there is the challenge of determining child custody arrangements in accordance with New Jersey law. An experienced family law attorney at Rosenblum can help you get the child custody arrangement that is most favorable to you and your child.

The state of New Jersey adheres to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which has also been adopted by other states in an effort to minimize interstate legal conflicts around child custody issues. 

The UCCJEA and other child custody laws are the basis on which a New Jersey court determines terms of custody and visitation rules. However, each child custody case has different circumstances to which the court will apply these laws. 

This means it’s important to understand relevant laws in order to make appropriate legal arguments in court to advocate for one’s parental rights and preferred child custody arrangement. That is why it is best to hire an experienced family law attorney. 

This article provides an overview of child custody in New Jersey.

Understanding Child Custody in New Jersey

There are several types of child custody arrangements that a New Jersey court can order. The type of custody arrangement will determine exactly who should have custody of a child and during what period of time.

Legal and Physical Custody 

There are two basic types of child custody: legal and physical. 

  • Legal custody allows a parent to make major decisions for the child. This may include deciding which school the child should attend, major health and medical decisions, and even what type of religious education the child should receive.
  • Physical custody gives a parent the right to make determinations regarding the daily physical care and supervision of the child. Physical custody also allows a parent to live with the child. This is different from visitation rights, which only permit a parent to spend time with the child.

Sole and Joint Legal Custody 

  • Sole custody is an arrangement in which only one parent has the right to make major decisions for the child.
  • Joint custody is an arrangement in which both parents will jointly make major decisions for the child.. 

The most common arrangement is joint legal custody combined, which entails both parents making major decisions for the child while the child primarily lives with one parent.

New Jersey family courts will be the venue in which child custody disputes are resolved. The judge will consider various factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child, which is the main legal standard used for deciding child custody disputes in New Jersey. 

Factors Considered in Determining Child Custody

The court will look at various factors to decide what child custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Some of the factors include:

  • A child’s emotional and physical needs will be considered. This will entail analyzing each parent’s ability to provide appropriate care for the child 
  • The child’s relationship with each parent will also be scrutinized. If one parent is closer to the child emotionally, the court may decide that it is best for this parent to have primary physical custody 
  • Any history of domestic violence from either parent will weigh heavily in the court’s decision 
  • The child’s preference if the child is 12 years or older 
  • The stability of the home environment and a parent’s employment responsibilities
  • The child’s relationship with siblings and stepsiblings 

Preparing for a Child Custody Case

Being fully prepared for a child custody case can make a huge difference in the eventual outcome. 

The first step in preparation is to gather the necessary documents and evidence that the attorney will need. This may include photos or videos that show how well a parent bonds emotionally with the child.

If domestic violence is involved, prepare evidence around that as well. A child’s academic and health records may be helpful. Witness statements should also be gathered that will help support the case. 

The attorney will use this evidence and more to effectively present the case throughout the litigation process. The stronger the evidence bolstering the legal arguments, the more likely the court will order a child custody arrangement with favorable terms.

The Process of Determining Child Custody in New Jersey

There are several steps in the process to determine child custody arrangements in New Jersey. 

First, the parents will usually be encouraged to come to an agreement on their own before taking legal action. A judge will usually approve whatever child custody arrangement they agree to as long as it is signed by both parents and is in the best interests of the child. 

If an agreement is not reached and there is an existing child custody arrangement, one of the parents can file a motion to modify it. If there is no existing custody agreement, a ] An application or motion can be filed with the court explaining what child custody arrangement is being sought and the legal basis for it. 

The court will then require both parents go through a mediation process in an attempt to come to a mutual agreement. If this is not possible, the matter will be taken to trial.

During the trial, each party will have the opportunity to gather documents and other evidence to support their legal arguments. Once both sides present their case, the judge will decide the child custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child, while also considering the interests of each parent when appropriate. 

Special Considerations in NJ Child Custody Cases

Some special challenges that parents commonly face in child custody cases in New Jersey can include:

  • relocation issues
  • the need to modify existing custody orders, 
  • enforcing those custody
  • substance abuse
  • mental health issues

If any of these issues is present, it is especially important to have a qualified family law attorney to help navigate them.

Why You Should Hire Rosenblum for Your Child Custody Case

Child custody cases are unpredictable, and there could be unforeseen challenges that require extensive legal training and knowledge. This is why hiring a professional attorney that specializes in family law is of the utmost importance.

Without legal representation, a party may end up making major errors in their legal strategy that could result in a child custody arrangement that is far from their desired result. Even if the facts are not entirely favorable, someone’s attorney can leverage what legal arguments are available with the aim of winning the best child custody arrangement possible. 

The attorney will also be sure to meet all deadlines for filing documents with the court throughout the litigation process, since failure to do so can seriously hinder the legal case. 

At Rosenblum Law, we’ve been handling divorce cases for decades. Our attorneys are experienced negotiators and will be by your side helping to get the best possible outcome for you in your divorce. Our firm is here to help you make sense of your options and ensure a favorable outcome. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

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