The Differences Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody

Child Custody in New Jersey

New Jersey recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Each type of custody has certain implications for the rights of the parents. The court may grant a parent certain rights but not others. And, the parents may share some or all of the rights. Knowing the differences between these rights can help you make the best decisions for you and your child.

Legal Custody

Legal custody gives parents decision-making rights. A parent with legal custody has the authority to make major decisions for the child. For example, a parent with legal custody can decide where the child goes to school. Parents can have either sole or joint legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody gives parents residential rights. This is also sometimes called residential custody. A parent with physical custody has the right to have the child live with them. They get to take care of the child on a day-to-day basis. A parent with physical custody often has legal custody as well. Physical custody can be sole or jointly shared. A child may live with the primary custodial parent the majority of the time or divide time evenly between both parents. The court may grant a parent visitation rights instead of physical custody. This gives them the right to spend time with the child.

How Is Custody Decided?

New Jersey recognizes both parents as being equal candidates for custody. The courts will make a custody determination that is in the best interests of the child. The court will look at many factors before deciding. For example, the court may consider how strong the existing parent-child relationships are. Above all, the court will make sure the parent(s) given custody will be able to meet the child’s needs.

A custody determination has many legal implications. If you are involved in a custody case, you may want to speak with an attorney. Custody cases can be complex, and a lot is at stake. You want what is best for your child, but knowing what is best and how to get that can be difficult. An experienced New Jersey child custody can advocate on your behalf in court. He or she can also protect your rights and your child’s welfare.


If you have questions about New Jersey custody, Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help you with your custody matter, making sure your child’s best interests are protected. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.



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