Child Custody

Are you involved in a divorce that is leading to child custody issues? Why not contact experienced New Jersey Divorce lawyer, Jeffrey R. Brown, who can represent and guide you through this difficult time?

Child custody and visitation are among the most emotionally charges issues facing couples during the divorce process. The reality, however, is that most visitation and custody disputes are resolved (sooner or later) by agreement between the parties and without the necessity of a trial.

The divorcing parties must agree on two different aspects of custody; legal custody, and physical custody. Legal custody generally implies the right to make major decisions affecting the health, education, and general welfare of the child. In most cases, the parties will share joint legal custody. In the minority of cases, one party may be granted sole legal custody, which means the exclusive right to make all decisions pertaining to the child without consultation with the other parent. Sole legal custody is most often seen where one party is mentally unfit to share joint legal custody or where one party has a documented, ongoing substance abuse problem.

Physical custody is generally understood to mean where the child will be physically residing most of the time. In some cases, primary physical custody is awarded to one parent, with the other parent entitled to visitation, or “parenting time.” In other cases, the parties may agree to (or a Judge may order) shared physical custody, which means a child will be spending a significant period of time with both parents. If the parties cannot agree upon a visitation schedule, they will frequently be required to participate in mediation, free of charge, which is run by the Family Court. If the parties cannot agree upon a visitation schedule in mediation, the issue will ultimately be presented to a Judge, who will make a ruling.

In determining custody, whether in a divorce case or in the case of two unmarried parents, the New Jersey Courts are guided by a variety of factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 9:2-4c, including the parents ability to agree and communicate with each other, the stability of the home environment offered, the needs of the child, the fitness and geographic proximity of the parents, the preference of the child when of sufficient age so as to reason, the extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation, the age and number of children, the employment responsibilities of the parents, and the history of any domestic violence.

Contact experienced divorce lawyer in New Jersey, Jeffrey R. Brown to represent and guide you through this difficult time.

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