In the midst of a spousal separation, exploring custody laws and visitation options is often an emotional and daunting task. Most likely, your hope and goal as a parent is to maintain normalcy for your children during what can be a confusing and scary time. In addition to normalcy, it is also important to create a safe, fair environment for your children. If parents disagree on what constitutes fair, a consultation with a divorce attorney may prove helpful. Understanding all legal options can pave the way to the best choice for everyone involved. Sole, joint, physical, and legal custody all offer different roles for various parental situations.
Different Types of Custody
The term “physical custody” refers to custody held by the parent who physically resides with the child. On the other hand, “legal custody” refers to the official authority to make decisions regarding the child’s well-being, such as health, education and religious upbringing. Legal custody may be held by one or both parents. Relative to these two types of custody, New Jersey offers several possible arrangements.
Sole custody is an arrangement in which the child physically resides with one parent at least five nights a week. In this scenario, the child lives with the non-custodial parent no more than two nights a week. The time the non-custodial parent spends with the child is often referred to as “visitation” and can include holidays and vacations. New Jersey now refers to this time as “parenting time,” implying the importance of both parents’ roles in the child’s life.
In a shared custody arrangement, one parent’s home serves as the “primary residence” while the other’s is considered the “secondary residence.” The child spends more than two nights per week with both parents. A shared custody arrangement can range from only three nights with one parent to equal time with both. School locations and child support plans are typically based on the specifics of each family’s shared custody situation.
Joint custody permits both parents to legally share equal parenting decisions, as well as equal residency. Though not as common as shared custody, joint custody is encouraged when parents have an amicable relationship and demonstrate healthy communication regarding parenting beliefs and responsibilities.
What Courts Look For
Courts ultimately aim for legal choices that are in the child’s best interest. Custody and visitation arrangements are based on certain factors, including:
* The child’s age
* The atmosphere of each parent’s home environment
* Any history of domestic abuse or violence
* The level of communication and cooperation regarding parenting issues
* Parental employment situations
* Each parent’s location of residence
* Child’s interaction and relationship with parents and siblings
Romanowski Law Offices Provides Experience You Can Trust
Most divorcing parents hope for a custody and visitation arrangement that is healthy, safe and productive for their children. Attorney Curtis J. Romanowski is available to guide you through your journey. His background in psychology and personality typology, as well as his experience as Former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chairman of New Jersey’s Collaborative Family Institute, provides the expertise to protect your child’s interests. He dedicates his practice to family law with a compassionate concern for clients and a legal integrity based on knowledge and experience. If you reside in or near Middlesex County, Monmouth, or Somerset, and need legal assistance involving child custody issues, contact Romanowski Law Offices today for an expert consultation.