Child Custody Lawyers Serving Bergen County and Northern New Jersey
Your attachment to your children is a bond that will never go away, but after a New Jersey divorce certain aspects of your relationship with your kids will change as a matter of course. These include how often you see your children and spend time with them, as well as how you make important decisions about their upbringing. The Englewood child custody lawyers at Herbert & Weiss can help you understand these significant changes and also advocate for you in settlement negotiations or litigation to ensure an ongoing, meaningful relationship between you and your children that is healthy, respectful and mindful of everybody’s needs and the best interests of the kids.
Child Custody in New Jersey
While some form of shared or joint custody is generally favored by the courts, it is still possible that the court will grant sole custody to one parent alone. In such cases, the noncustodial parent is usually still afforded some visitation rights, although supervised visitation can be ordered if there is any history of abuse or some other compelling reason. Even in joint custody arrangements, the division of parenting time is rarely equal, and one parent generally assumes the responsibility of primary custody.
There are two types of child custody that must be considered – legal and physical. Physical custody refers to the actual possession of the child for certain periods of time, while legal custody involves the right and responsibility to make decisions concerning the child’s education, healthcare, religious upbringing and other important aspects of child-rearing. The court can award joint or sole physical custody or legal custody, depending upon what the judge deems is in the best interests of the child. It is crucial to have effective representation and let your voice be heard in any child custody hearing.
Types of Child Custody
If the parents can agree on how to share custody of the children, they can draw up a parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval. This can sometimes be accomplished without litigation through informal talks or mediation. However, advice and representation from an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer is strongly recommended. Parents who start off with the best intentions to create an amicable, workable schedule quickly get bogged down in the details and find that creating a parenting plan can be a complex, difficult task. The family law attorneys at Herbert & Weiss can help you stay on track when creating a parenting plan and prevent an uncontested child custody issue from turning into a courtroom battle that is not in the children’s best interests.
When the courts do determine child custody, they will address both the physical custody of the children as well as their legal custody:
Physical Custody – This includes where the children will live and how often they will live with each parent, including holidays and vacations as well as throughout the year. Arrangements such as drop-offs, exchanges and how last-minute changes to the custody arrangement will be handled should all be addressed in the parenting plan.
Legal Custody – Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing in areas such as education, medical care, religion and extracurricular activities. Will these decisions be made jointly or by the parent with primary custody? If decision-making is shared, how will disagreements be decided? These issues need to be fully explored and addressed by the parents or the courts in determining legal custody.
The policy of the state of New Jersey favors joint or shared custody and encourages meaningful relationships for both parents with the children, but above all the best interests of the children is the overriding factor in making custody determinations. The court can grant sole legal or physical custody to one parent if in the child’s best interests. The court can grant sole custody to one parent with or without visitation rights to the other parent, or order supervised visitation where appropriate. These matters are left to the judge to decide based on the evidence, testimony and arguments presented in court, which is why it is so important to be ably represented by passionate and dedicated family lawyers who will advocate strenuously for your rights.
Our Englewood Lawyers are Here to Help with Your Child Custody Needs
Our New Jersey child custody lawyers are with you whenever child custody decisions need to be made, including post-divorce modifications due to parental relocation or shifting needs of the children. Count on our experienced New Jersey family law attorneys to find a practical and creative solution to your unique needs that is best for your family. Call our Englewood office at 201-440-6300 for a free telephone consultation about your needs.