When New Jersey couples are going through a divorce, there is nothing of greater consequence than child custody arrangements. Parents and family courts agree that all decisions made surrounding this issue must be in the child’s best interests since they will affect the child’s long-term future. If you are in this situation, you need the support and skilled legal representation of the accomplished family law attorneys at Bozanian McGregor in Paramus.

We have an in-depth understanding of  [1] various ways in which parental responsibilities can be shared [2] information-sharing protocols between parents [3] direct contact arrangements between a noncustodial parent and their child and [4] how child custody will be determined by the court if the parents cannot agree on a reasonable parenting plan. You will find our law team as caring as we are capable. We have a track record of successful intervention and diplomatic negotiation. If litigation becomes necessary, we are well-equipped to fight for your child’s rights at trial.

Parental Responsibilities

Parents are legally obligated to provide emotional, financial, and physical support for their children. These responsibilities extend beyond basic necessities, encompassing educational, medical, and recreational needs. New Jersey courts give a great deal of weight to shared parental responsibilities, encouraging both parents (except in rare cases, e.g. child abuse) to maintain active roles in their child’s life after the divorce. 

Two Types of Child Custody

Throughout the U.S., there are two types of child custody:

  • Physical Custody: Physical custody defines where the child lives. While in most cases, joint custody is considered best for a child, in some situations, the parents’ homes and work schedules may make this impossible. If joint custody doesn’t work in your case, you and your ex may agree on sole physical custody. Though the child will then live primarily with one parent, they will spend a generous amount of time (typically one or more evenings per week and every other weekend) with the other parent.
  • Legal Custody: Legal custody gives a parent the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care, religious upbringing, and other major life choices and is almost always shared by both parents.

Information-Sharing Between Divorced Parents

New Jersey law mandates that information about the child’s health, education, and general welfare be shared by both parents. It is expected that both parents will be informed about 

the child’s academic performance, recreational activities, sporting events, and creative performances, whether or not such occurrences require parental collaboration. Sharing this information promotes the child’s overall development and allows both parents to remain engaged in their child’s life.

Direct Contact Between Child and Parents

How such communication should best take place — e.g. through text or phone call — should be amicably arranged between the parents. Either way, keeping the lines of communication open is vital to the child’s emotional health.

As far as parenting time visits between the child and the noncustodial parent are concerned, as long as the parents can work out a feasible plan by themselves, the court will approve it. Give and take will be necessary since parenting time arrangements have to take many things into account:

  • Child’s age and school schedule
  • Child’s sports activities, therapy sessions, music lessons, playdates etc.
  • Parents work schedules, social calendars
  • Medical and dental appointments of parents and child

Our attorneys are aware of the intricacies of planning visitation and can be very helpful in this regard.

When Child Custody Has To Be Determined in Court

If the two parents are unable to reach a child custody agreement, a New Jersey court will make the crucial decisions about the child custody arrangements. The court will seriously consider the following factors when making this decision:

  • Child’s best interests as related to their age, health, safety and existing relationships with both parents and the health of both parents
  • Parental fitness in terms of income, emotional maturity, the ability to provide a safe, nurturing, affectionate environment for the child
  • Each parent’s employment stability, mental health, or past criminal conduct
  • Either parent’s record of domestic, child or substance abuse
  • Child’s preferences if the child is old enough to voice an informed opinion 
  • Each parent’s ability to cooperate with the other parent and to foster a positive co-parenting relationship

Even if you and your spouse are able to create a workable child custody arrangement on your own, without court input, you will likely have questions during the negotiation process. This is when having a child custody lawyer at your side is invaluable. Your Bozanian McGregor attorney will have a comprehensive knowledge of the ins and outs of New Jersey child custody statutes and is always ready to explain them to you in plain language to clarify any areas of doubt or confusion.

What Happens If Child Custody Arrangements Have To Be Modified?

Because life is constantly changing, a child custody agreement may have to be revised if circumstances change. When this happens, contact our offices for rapid response and effective action. We will navigate the justice system for you if documents and behavior have to be altered because:

  • The needs of the child have changed
  • The child is going through a period when they need more time with one parent
  • One parent’s work schedule or living situation has altered
  • One parent has become seriously injured or ill, physically or psychiatrically ill
  • One parent has recovered from an illness or injury or is now sober and in recovery
  • One parent has had a major increase or decrease in income or assets, and so has become more or less able to house the child
  • Incidents of domestic violence or child abuse have arisen relative to one parent
  • One parent is interfering with the other parent’s relationship with the child
  • The child has been diagnosed with special needs that one parent is better able to handle
  • One parent has developed a mental health problem, begun engaging in dangerous activities or associating or living with poor role models for the child.

Contact Our Experienced Child Custody Attorneys Today

If you are having difficulty working out child custody issues as you proceed with your divorce, our seasoned attorneys can help to relieve the tension and solve the problem. Contact us now so we can begin.