When a couple is divorcing, a primary concern they face is how to divide custody of their children. New Jersey courts tend to favor joint custody arrangements unless either party shows that such an arrangement would not benefit the child. If you are going through a divorce, a Montclair child custody lawyer could help you navigate the intricacies of the state’s custodial rights laws and the court process. Most importantly, one of our caring family attorneys could assist you in pursuing an outcome that best serves your child’s interests and the needs of your family.
There are a few different ways that a court may award custodial rights between divorcing parents. There are two main types of custody in the eyes of the law — physical and legal custody.
Physical custody determines which parent a child may live with. Legal custody allows a parent to make significant life decisions for the child, such as the religion they will practice and where they will go to school.
Parents who have a joint custody arrangement may share both physical and legal custody. Alternatively, one parent may have sole custody in one form and share the other. A lawyer in the area could work hard to help a divorcing parent protect their custodial rights over their child.
When a divorcing couple shares children, the ideal situation is for both parties to work together to implement a parenting plan and visitation schedule. A parenting plan typically contains the agreed-upon custodial arrangement, under what circumstances either party may request a modification, where the child will live, the visitation schedule, and many other details that could pertain to the custody of a child. Once a couple creates this plan, the court would need to sign off on the agreement before entering it into the divorce decree. A Montclair lawyer could help someone create a comprehensive child custody agreement that works best for their family.
However, if the parties are unable to arrange custody on their own, the court will often need to get involved. When the court makes a decision regarding the custodial arrangement, the judge’s primary concern should be the best interests of the child.
As mentioned previously, the courts usually favor a joint arrangement, especially if the child already has an established relationship with each parent. With that being said, if there are grounds to believe that a joint custody arrangement would not be in the child’s best interests (i.e., one parent is abusing drugs or alcohol), they may grant sole custody to one parent.
There is a wide range of criteria the court may consider before making a final decision. These criteria may include the physical and psychological fitness of each parent, the nature of the bond the child has with each party, and the physical proximity of each parent’s residence to the other. If the child is at least 12 years of age, the court also may consider their preferences. However, if the child’s wishes do not match with their best interests, the court may decide on a different custody arrangement.
Whether you are dealing with an amicable divorce or facing a custody battle, it is crucial to have competent representation at all stages of your case. A Montclair child custody lawyer could address your concerns and work tirelessly to achieve an arrangement that works well for you and your child. Contact our firm today to get more information about obtaining legal assistance for your case.