Hackensack Child Custody Attorneys
An Overview of Child Custody Laws in New Jersey
An understanding of New Jersey’s laws on child custody in divorce or separation matters requires a familiarity with N.J.S.A. 9:2-4. This is New Jersey’s custody statute, and is where the state’s public policy on the subject is contained. Our Hackensack child custody lawyers are well versed in New Jersey's laws and are prepared to help you navigate your custody battle.
The court will base their custody decisions on the best interest of the child or children. They seek to ensure that minors’ lives are not disrupted by divorce by encouraging co-parenting and joint custody, unless in cases of proven abuse. At Laterra & Hodge, LLC, our Hackensack lawyers work for this same goal, to protect your children and your family. We work hard to protect your child’s best interests.
We can assist you with any of the following custody issues:
What's the Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody?
The stated policy of New Jersey is to assure minor children frequent and continuing contact with both parents, and it is the stated interest of the public that both parents be encouraged in sharing in the rights and responsibilities of rearing children.
Child Custody in New Jersey is divided into two distinct components:
- Physical custody concerns the issue of with whom the child resides on a day-to-day basis. Physical custody can be sole or shared.
- Legal custody concerns who will have a say in the making of major decisions that concern the child’s health, education, and well-being. Legal custody can be sole or joint.
The courts are also called upon to determine parenting time arrangements, or the allocation of regular time, holiday time, and vacation time that each parent gets to spend with the child. There is no limit to the possible parenting time arrangements upon which parents may agree or which a judge may order, provided that arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
What is Legal Custody?
As explained above, legal custody concerns who is in charge of the decisions that concern the major issues of the parties’ child. These include:
- Educational issues, such as whether a child will repeat a grade or not
- Medical issues like whether a child will receive a surgical procedure
- Religious issues including what faith the children shall be raised in
- What surname the child will assume
- Any other myriad of issues
It is worth noting that minor, day-to-day issues (what movies a child is permitted to watch, what a child will wear to school, what a child will have for dinner) are overseen by the parent with whom the child is with when such decisions are made.
What Is the Difference Between Joint and Sole Custody?
Courts have two options when it comes to legal custody: they can award sole legal custody, or they may award joint legal custody.
Sole Legal Custody
If a party is awarded sole legal custody, that party has exclusive authority in the decision-making process, and need to seek the input of the other parent. Sole legal custody has become less common and is usually reserved for those situations where the parties lack any ability to communicate, and where that lack of communication extends beyond the normal lack of communication that regularly accompanies the divorce process. Sole legal custody is frequently sought where there is a domestic violence final restraining order in place.
Joint Legal Custody
If a party is awarded joint legal custody, this means that the parties must consult and confer with one another prior to any major decision being made. Interestingly, even in a joint legal custody situation, all is not equal, as the parent of primary residence is given the final say (subject to the non-custodial parent filing a motion in an effort to convince the trial court that the custodial parent’s decision is clearly out of line).
How Is Custody Determined?
They will look at factors including both parent’s communication, their willingness to comply with arrangements, prior relationships, any history of abuse, the child’s safety and needs, any preferences of the children, the stability and quality of the home, educational needs, parent’s responsibilities, and more.
At Laterra & Hodge, our Hackensack child custody attorneys will work with you to fashion and advocate for a custody and parenting time arrangement that suits your needs and the needs of your child. Call us at (201) 580-2240 to schedule a free initial consultation.