Old Bridge Family Law Attorneys

Legal Guidance for Old Bridge Residents Planning to Dissolve a Marriage

Old Bridge is a township of about 65,000 residents in Middlesex County, New Jersey, located across the bay from Staten Island. As of 2010, Old Bridge was New Jersey's 18th-largest municipality, and it is considered a bedroom suburb of New York City with a lot of its residents commuting to jobs in New York City. Originally named Madison Township, the name was changed by vote to the current name in 1975. Divorce can substantially change every facet of a family's daily life, making it important to consult an Old Bridge family law attorney who can advise you on your options. An experienced family law attorney at Goldstein Law Group can help you understand your rights and explore your options if you are facing the dissolution of a marriage.

Rules Governing Child Custody

Among the most important and commonly contested matters that arise from a divorce is child custody. There are two aspects of custody in New Jersey. There is legal custody, which gives a parent authority to participate in major life decisions for the child, such as those involving school, health, religion, and other issues of well-being. There is also physical (residential) custody, which involves the child's ability to spend time with or live with each parent. In general, New Jersey law presumes that parents should share the rights and responsibilities of parenting. While joint legal custody is common, in many instances, a child will live primarily with one parent due, in large part, to practical considerations such as which parent(s) may (or may not) have the ability to get children to or from school if , for example, a parent’s employment responsibilities involves frequent travel or erratic hours while the other parent’s employment (or lack of employment) may be more conducive to serving as the child’s “parent of primary residence” (known as the “PPR”).

The paramount consideration for courts making a child custody determination is “the best interests of the child” or children involved. The judge presumes that the child's best interest is to have a relationship with both parents. However, a parent objecting to custody or parenting time who proves the other parent has abused or neglected the child or children presents a strong reason for the court to order that parenting time with the other parent be supervised or suspended.

What does the "best interests" standard in child custody cases entail? The court will consider many factors such as: the physical health and safety of the child, the child’s emotional needs, co-parenting potential, communication styles between the parents (i.e.- the ability of the two parents to communicate and cooperate with each other when it comes to issues pertaining to their children), the child’s relationship with a parent, the presence of indicia of acts of parent alienation by one parent, past or present, as well as practical considerations (i.e.-a parent’s work schedule, child care possibilities, logistics, etc). These practical considerations may include such items as the parents' employment responsibilities and the distance of the child's school from each parent's house. A family law lawyer can help Old Bridge residents understand how the standard may apply in their situation.

In New Jersey, parents can submit proposed agreements about how to share their parenting time, as long as the child's best interests are met. Courts usually require parents who disagree about this plan to attend mediation provided by the court system to assist them in resolving their differences about child custody and visitation. Sometimes, when the disagreements involve great volatility or the court perceives that a child may be presently suffering from this process and may be mentally or emotionally harmed by a divisive, heated custody battle, it is necessary to appoint an attorney who can investigate and represent the child's best interests (known as a guardian ad-litem). Parents usually have to pay for this attorney, and it is best if parents come together to try to resolve any issues involving the custody of their children. Unlike the division of assets, or the determination of support amounts in a divorce, no price can be placed on the safety and welfare of one’s children. Most parents are extremely passionate and protective of their children, as they should be. An experienced attorney with knowledge of the law involving child custody and custody evaluations is critical to protect your child’s best interest, and to try and calm what proves to be an otherwise volatile, protracted, invasive and costly endeavor with far reaching consequences on a child’s future.

Custody and parenting time arrangements will also affect a child support obligation. When a child spends 28% or more overnights (more than 105 nights per year) with a non-custodial parent, the non-custodial parent's child support payments must now be calculated by using the Shared Parenting Guidelines instead of the Sole Parenting Guidelines (the terms “shared parenting” and “sole parenting” under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are different than when used in defining legal and residential custody!).

Explore Your Options with a Family Law Attorney in Old Bridge

At Goldstein Law Group, our experienced child custody lawyers understand the challenges that residents of Old Bridge can face when making these complicated arrangements. Our attorneys can help you advocate for the best interests of your child during divorce or seek to modify a custody order, or child support order after the divorce. Contact our Old Bridge family law lawyers at 732-967-6777 or via our online form. We have counseled clients throughout Monmouth and Middlesex Counties.

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