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Whether you are actively seeking a divorce from your child’s other parent or are no longer in relationship with them, the matter of who will retain legal and physical custody of your minor is a complex one to resolve. Even if both parents are broadly in agreement about the kind of custody they believe would be appropriate for their unique situation, preparing a comprehensive agreement can be daunting.
In situations like this, having a dependable family attorney on your side can make a significant difference in how detailed and encompassing your final custody arrangement is, which can save you time, money, and stress in the years to come. By retaining one of our West Caldwell child custody lawyers, you could better ensure that your custody agreement includes anticipated and common issues as your child ages, and protects your rights and your child’s rights. Our family attorneys can help you prepare a custody arrangement that addresses everything from parenting time and financial responsibility, rights of the parents and children, to life insurance and tax issues.
There are two forms of custody that courts have the authority to grant one or both of a minor’s separated parents, both of which a West Caldwell child custody attorney will further explain.
Being legally in charge of a child is a parent or guardian’s right to make decisions on a child’s behalf regarding important matters like education, medical care, and religious upbringing. On the other hand, physical custody refers to which parent or guardian the child lives with during certain periods of time.
New Jersey courts operate under the presumption that a minor remaining in “frequent and continuing contact with both parents” is in that child’s best interests. Accordingly, courts generally prefer to establish joint arrangements in which both parents share the rights incumbent with both types of custody equally.
That said, there are certain circumstances in which a court may find it appropriate to grant one parent sole physical and legal care of a child, in which case the non-custodial parent may receive visitation rights with their child rather than joint custody.
New Jersey law encourages parents to work together and attempt to reach a joint agreement, which can be submitted to the court for filing via a Consent Order. In the event the parties are unable to reach an agreement, pursuant to the Court Rules, the parties then attend mediation, where each party is able to negotiate provisions most important to them, before resorting to seeking relief from the court, where a judge will make the final decision.
In the event the parties are unable to reach an agreement amongst themselves, the courts prioritize the child’s best interests based on factors like the ability of the parties to communicate, minor’s age, educational and medical needs, normal standard of living, relationship with both parents, and more.
As a lawyer in West Caldwell can affirm, courts may order custody evaluations to be performed by qualified professionals. These evaluations assist the court is gaining insight to the needs of the child, fitness of each parent, and provides recommendations as to parenting time arrangements that are in the child’s best interest.
Negotiations over custody are rarely simple matters, and discussion where both parents broadly agree on a preferred arrangement can be emotionally exhausting and complex. Fortunately, help is available from our dedicated legal representatives who know how these kinds of cases work and could provide the custom-tailored guidance you may need.
A conversation with a West Caldwell child custody lawyer will give you answers to any questions and concerns you might have. Call our New Jersey office today to get started.