Child Custody & Visitation
Divorce can make it challenging for families to work together to make decisions in the best interests of their children. Even so, many people would prefer to control important choices about their families, rather than leaving it up to the court. Child custody and visitation disputes can quickly turn into heated battles. The skilled family law lawyers of Goldstein Law Group have over 25 years of experience in Monmouth County, advocating for our clients' interests in these sensitive matters. Enlist our accumulated knowledge for your benefit.Child Custody and Visitation in New Jersey
Child custody is divided into two parts: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the authority to make major decisions that affect a child's medical care, education, welfare, and safety. Physical custody is also called residential custody, and it refers to where a child lives. Usually, small daily decisions about what a child does are left to the parent who is spending time with the child that day.
Joint legal custody is very common in New Jersey. If both parents have legal custody, they are each entitled to a role in deciding where the child goes to school, if the child attends a religious service and where, and when the child sees a doctor and which doctor it is. However, in some cases, the court will give legal custody to only one parent.
Joint physical custody allows a child to live roughly similar amounts of time with both parents. When a child spends three or more nights with each parent, the parents are considered to have joint custody. Even so, one parent will be considered the "parent of primary residence," while the other parent will be considered a "parent of alternate residence." This label can affect child support calculations, among other things. Joint legal and joint physical custody tend to be less common than an arrangement involving joint legal and sole physical custody.
When a parent has sole physical custody, it means that the child lives with that parent most of the time and spends two or fewer nights per week plus holiday time with the other parent. Physical custody can have an impact on "visitation," which New Jersey courts also call parenting time. Parenting time is time the child spends with a non-custodial parent when the other parent is awarded primary physical custody.
Usually, a non-custodial parent retains visitation rights. However, these may be terminated in extreme cases when the court has determined a parent is "unfit." A parent is unfit if the parent's actions or history of behavior pose a threat to the child. For example, visitation could be terminated in cases involving drug addiction or sexual abuse. In some cases, parents accuse the other parent of “unfitness” in a custody battle as a means of getting the upper hand. If this occurs, the court can order a risk assessment, a custody evaluation, or a best interest evaluation to investigate the matter.Consult a Middlesex County Lawyer for Assistance During Divorce
Parents in New Jersey are encouraged to come to their own agreements regarding child custody and visitation rather than go to trial over these issues. The latest trend in family law is to have a shared parenting plan. This can result in lower child support payments, but the true benefit is giving children the opportunity to spend equal amounts of time and contact with both parents. When the parents are unable to agree, the court will implement a custody and visitation schedule.
At Goldstein Law Group, our divorce attorneys are experienced litigators as well as accomplished mediators who have a long history of serving Middlesex County and other New Jersey communities. We can help you resolve child custody and visitation issues informally or take your case to trial if no agreement is possible. Contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form. We have assisted individuals from Manalapan, East Brunswick, Rumson, and the surrounding areas.