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Unfortunately, not every family is able to reach an agreement as to legal custody, residential custody and/or a parenting time plan. In such cases, the parties are required to seek judicial intervention to determine custody of children.

Each party can submit a separate custody plan for the court to review and consider, emphasizing the reasons why their proposed plan is best suited to the child’s best interests. The Court will then review each proposed plan and eventually make an award of custody based upon specific considerations such as physical and mental health, location of each parent’s residence and the capability of each parent to efficiently provide for the child.  Children who are of sufficient age and maturity can also have a voice as to the parent with whom he or she would prefer to live.

Prior to making a final decision on custody and/or parenting time, the Court will afford the parties ample opportunity to explore settlement, including but not limited to mediation and settlement conferences.

Ultimately, the legal and residential custody of a child is determined based upon the child’s best interests, and the Court will consider numerous factors in its decision.  Courts will render decisions relating to legal and residential custody after considering how well each parent has demonstrated an ability and willingness to foster the child’s well-being, to provide a safe and caring environment, and to make positive and beneficial decisions on the child’s behalf.

In cases where one parent is absent or deemed unfit, the other may be awarded sole legal and/or residential custody. This means that the parent designated sole legal and/or residential custodian is vested with the power and authority to make any and all significant decisions for the child without having to consult with the other parent. These arrangements are known as Sole Legal and/or Residential Custody.

We hope that this information provides a general overview of child custody and parenting time disputes in New Jersey.  The attorneys at Bozanian McGregor, LLC are experts and are knowledgeable in the area of child custody law.