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Child Custody / Parenting Time

Child Custody and Parenting Time New Jersey

Child Custody And Parenting Time New Jersey with a father holding his daughter in the air and kissing her

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    What Child Custody Arrangement Are You Looking for— and How Can a New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer Help You Get It? 

    You’re getting divorced. Or you’re separated, or you’re thinking about divorce. No matter what your specific circumstances are, two things are likely to be true: you’re worried about your finances, and you’re worried about your children. 

    We have a lot of expertise dealing with both aspects of divorce, and here we’re going to focus on the children part: specifically, who will have custody of them? What will your parenting time look like? 

    Numerous worries may be flying through your head: Who’s going to look out for them? Who’s going to pack their lunches, get them out the door for daycare or school, and pick them up from soccer practice? Who’s going to be you when/if you’re not around? 

    Divorce means your family is fracturing. And that fracture means you may not physically be in your children’s lives 100% of the time. (It does not mean you won’t be their parent 100% of the time.) Custody, defined as the protective care of guardianship of someone, must be decided. Prior to the divorce process, this was likely something you never thought about— yet now you must. 

    A New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer Can Help You with Your Arrangement

    There are two (2) types of custody: 

    • Legal custody – Who is responsible, legally, for the decisions affecting the healthy, education and well-being of this child? 
    • Physical custody – Who is responsible, physically, for the whereabouts and safety of this child? Where does your child sleep? What address does he/she/they call home? 

    Oftentimes the custody arrangement may be the same; you’re jointly aware of your child(ren) at both times/all times. However, one parent may assume more of the legal custody responsibility, depending upon many factors including involvement in the day-to-day aspects of your child’s life, and a history of good judgement calls, or a specific expertise— a pediatrician parent making medical decisions, an educator making school-related decisions. 

    What Type of Custody Is Right for You?

    Consult with your New Jersey Custody Lawyer about which type of custody you would, ideally, like. In New Jersey, Courts often lead with the unofficial, unstated presumption of joint legal custody. It ensures the right to be involved for parents. In terms of a joint legal custody, both parents would be responsible for the decisions and responsibilities of the child (and this sometimes leads to a working and civil co-parenting relationship). That means you’ll consult with your co-parent about the health, welfare, and general well-being of your child. Issues such as What school would be best for our child? and Is this the right doctor to treat our child? will be discussed and decided together.  

    Physical custody determines with which parent the children live and spend most of their time with. This is different from legal custody, and is explored below. 

    There are other types of custody arrangements, of course: 

    Sole legal custody

    In which one parent has full rights, responsibilities, and decision-making authority. Obviously, this places a tremendous amount of responsibility on the parent who is granted sole legal custody. 

    Sole physical custody

    In which the children live full-time with one parent and visit the other parent. This type of custody arrangement entails a parenting time schedule that needs to be agreed upon by the co-parents or decided by the court. 

    Primary residential custody

    In which the child primarily resides in one home and has scheduled or ad hoc parenting time, including overnights, at the non-primary parent’s home. Oftentimes it’s best if these overnights are properly scheduled to decrease fighting and tension over the arrangements. 

    Shared residential custody

    In which the children reside with the parent or guardian who has custody that day/night. Sometimes children alternate homes weekly, sometimes every few days. This is how we often think of divorce: the image of a child bringing their backpack and favorite stuffed animal from home to home, alternating between two homes. 

    Think honestly about which type of custody arrangement would be best for you, your children, and even your co-parent. Consult with your New Jersey Custody Lawyer about which type of custody arrangement they think is best suited to your family. 

    Why Do Some Parents Pursue a Non-Joint Custody Arrangement? 

    A New Jersey Custody Lawyer will explain this to you in detail, but there are numerous factors as to why some parents may pursue a custody arrangement that is not joint custody. They may include but are not limited to: 

    Work schedules

    For instance, if one parent has not worked and still plans not to work, they may want a higher percentage of physical custody. In fact, the children may be used to this, and it may not be in their best interests to alter it now, during such a rocky time as divorce. 

    Income disparity

    Even with alimony and/or child support, if one parent’s income is so disproportionately higher than the other parent’s, this may impact their custody desires, either for more custody or less. Of course, as time goes on, if co-parents’ incomes become more equal, a custody arrangement can always be appealed, modified and/or altered. 

    Chemical dependency

    If one parent has a chemical dependence or substance abuse issue, this will impact their ability to gain their preferred type of custody. 


    If one parent has abused— or is facing allegations of abuse— a child, this too this will impact their ability to gain their preferred type of custody.

    We’re experienced matrimonial attorneys who have seen it all, and we know how hard divorce is: on the kids, on the parents, on the family. Your biggest goal may be not to disrupt your kid’s life any more than you must. Your children are your number one priority in your divorce, and you likely want to be with them as much as you can. Your New Jersey Custody Lawyer will work with you, honestly and forthrightly, to fight for what is best for you and for your children. Together you can Move Forward to a custody arrangement that, hopefully, works best for all parties in the divorce—in the best interest of the child. 

    Worried about your child custody arrangement? Call (201) 488-1161, fill out the intake form, or email a dedicated Family Law paralegal to speak with a New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer at O’Cathain Law Group.

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