Types of Child Custody in Short Hills

Many factors determine and affect a custodial arrangement for a child. Most people think of custody as where the child resides and who they spend time with. However, there are several types of custody in Short Hills that cover different aspects of a child’s well-being and lifestyle. In a custody determination, it is presumed that the child should have meaningful access to both parents. However, there are various factors that can affect custody arrangements.

For example, a custodial parent who provides the primary residence for the child has more influence over the child’s day-to-day life than a non-custodial parent, even if both share legal custody. Parents in the area should seek a practiced attorney who could further explain the different types of child custody arrangements. Understanding all possible outcomes in a child custody determination could be key to protecting your relationship with your child.

What is a Custodial Parent?

The custodial parent is considered to have primary time with the child and provides their principal residence. Although the child may spend time with the other party, the custodial parent provides the primary home and typically has more than half of the parenting time. Even if both parents share legal custody, the custodial parent makes most of the day-to-day decisions for the child, including what they do on a daily basis, what they eat, and what moral or religious activities they participate in.

If the parties do not agree on an important matter, the custodial parent has priority. The non-custodial parent has less substantial decision-making abilities and parenting time with the child. Today, there is far more flexibility afforded to non-custodial parents in Short Hills, but they still normally get less than half of the parenting time with their child.

To maintain custody, both parents must be able to minimally provide for the child’s shelter, food, clothing, and other necessities. A court also considers several other factors when determining the type of custody arrangement to put in place. These factors may include:

  • The work patterns of both parents
  • Where the child thrives (the “best interests” of the child)
  • If a parent is unfit to care for the child due to health, substance abuse, or economic reasons

Legal vs. Physical Custody

Legal custody is the power to make decisions for the health, education, and welfare of the child. This could include choosing the school they attend and whether it is private or public, or deciding if they should undergo any medical procedures. The custodial parent is also invested with a right to make religious decisions for their child. Both parents generally have equal entitlement and are presumed to be able to share joint legal custody unless one is found to be unfit.

Physical custody is what most people think of when they say and hear the word custody. In Short Hills, this type of custody refers to where the child resides the majority of the time. It can be primarily with one parent or it can be shared equally between the parents, depending on what they agreed to or what a court ordered. Parents going through divorce proceedings will often retain a local attorney with experience in child custody law to help argue their case for maintaining decision-making abilities and time with their child.

Sole Legal Custody

Sole legal custody means one parent has the unilateral right to make decisions regarding the child without needing approval from the other. However, someone with sole legal custody must still notify the other parent of their reasons for taking certain actions or any important updates regarding the child.

One example is any change in medical status. When a parent who has sole legal custody changes medical providers, they do not need the other parent’s approval. However, they do have to inform the other parent of the decision because that party has a right to petition the court if they disagree. Any person with legal standing to a child has the right to assert that something is not in the child’s best interests. This means that non-custodial parents may raise issues even though the person who has sole legal custody is ultimately the final decision-maker.

Sole legal custody is rare in the state of New Jersey. It is only employed when a parent:

  • Is deemed unfit due to a mental health issue
  • Suffers from an uncontrolled disease or disorder and poses a risk to the child
  • Has substance abuse problems and is not in remediation
  • Is at risk of relapse
  • Has been found guilty of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

Call a Short Hills Attorney to Learn More About the Types of Child Custody

Custodial arrangements can take many different forms and must account for various nuances under state child custody laws. If you are a parent dealing with child custody matters, a knowledgeable attorney can work with you to find what type of child custody arrangement in Short Hills may be suitable for you. Call today to learn how our divorce lawyers could help assert your parenting rights and protect your time with your child.

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