Joint and Sole Custody

Family Law Attorneys Advising Monmouth County Residents

In New Jersey, the parents’ wishes are less important in a custody battle than their child’s best interests. However, every child is unique, and the way your lawyer frames your individual child’s best interests can make a big difference in the outcome of your case, as well as how much child support will have to be paid between parents. Divorcing spouses who are seeking to understand joint and sole custody or resolve a custody matter can consult the Monmouth County child custody lawyers at Goldstein Law Group to represent them during this emotionally challenging process.

The Difference Between Joint and Sole Custody

In New Jersey, there are two main elements of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves a parent’s authority to make decisions for the child regarding important matters such as the child’s education, health, safety and welfare. Daily decisions are usually the province of whichever parent a child is physically accompanying on a particular day. In New Jersey, parents almost always share legal custody, and only extreme circumstances where a parent is unavailable or unfit would warrant a court’s decision that one parent have sole legal custody. For example, sole legal custody might be appropriate when a parent has abused or neglected the child in the past, or is addicted to drugs. If one parent accuses the other of being unfit, the court may order a custody evaluation or a family risk assessment. Under New Jersey Law, it is assumed that absent extreme circumstances, both parents have a right to participate equally in major parenting decisions, such as where a child should go to school, the child’s religious upbringing, and who the child’s medical providers should be. This can be difficult for divorcing couples because the parents must be able to communicate and cooperate closely with one another. Easier said than done, in many cases.

Physical custody, also sometimes called “residential custody”, refers to where a child lives the majority of the time. This is different though, from the concept of a sole parenting or shared parenting child support calculation. When we calculate child support under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, there are two separate types of calculations: The first is known as “shared parenting worksheet”. This applies when a child spends two or more overnights per week (on average) or, 28% of the overnights with that parent. . The parent with whom a child lives the majority of the time is called the “parent of primary residence” (PPR) and the other parent is designated the “parent of alternate reside” (PAR). When parents have shared physical custody, child support calculations will be different. A highly involved parent of alternate residence will likely pay less child support to the other parent than he or she would in a sole custody situation. If a parent has less than 28% of the overnights per week or month, we utilize a “sole parenting worksheet” to calculate the child support. This means that the child lives with that parent fewer than two overnights per week (on average). In some cases, the child may spend additional time with the non-custodial parent during vacations from school or summer break.

New Jersey courts assume that a child will benefit if the parents are equally or near-equally involved in the responsibilities and rights of parenting. However, parenting time for a non-custodial parent may be restricted or supervised if that parent has a history of domestic violence or abuse.

Discuss a Child Custody Matter with a Monmouth County Lawyer

Parents are encouraged to make their own custody arrangements, but in some cases agreement is not possible, and in those cases, it may be appropriate to proceed to trial on the issue of custody. The knowledgeable family law lawyers at Goldstein Law Group can protect the interests of people throughout New Jersey who are seeking to establish joint or sole custody. We serve clients in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties, as well as other communities throughout New Jersey. Contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form for a Free 10 Minute Case Evaluation* with a Monmouth County attorney to learn more about joint and sole custody.

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