New Jersey custody laws are similar to the child custody statutes in other states. And yet, there are some distinctions you should get to know before you head into court. Here's what you need to know about New Jersey custody laws:
How New Jersey Custody Laws Impact Court Decisions
Family courts in New Jersey consider several factors when determining child custody arrangements. Parents who wish to file for child custody in New Jersey should first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state.
In general, boosting your legal knowledge is the best way to increase your chances of winning child custody in New Jersey.
Joint Custody in New Jersey
New Jersey family courts encourage both parents to be actively involved in a child's life after separation or divorce. In addition, New Jersey courts tend to encourage a shared, joint custody arrangement wherever possible. The courts interpret joint custody to be in the best interests of the child.
A joint custody arrangement in New Jersey may include the following scenarios:
- The child lives solely with one parent or alternates time with each parent, depending on the needs of the parents and the child
- The parents actively work with one another to collaborate in making major decisions for the child with regards to medical and educational decisions
- Alternatively, a New Jersey court may grant sole custody to one parent, combined with granting an appropriate amount of time to the non-custodial parent
- Courts in New Jersey also have the authority to grant any other custody arrangement that the court finds to be in the child's best interests
Determining Child Custody in New Jersey
In general, family courts in New Jersey will consider the following factors when making a custody determination:
- The quality of the relationship of the child with each of his/her parents and siblings
- Each parent's ability to communicate with one another and work together for the child's best interests
- Each parent's willingness to accept court-appointed child custody arrangements
- Any history of either parent's unwillingness to cooperate with a formal child custody plan or court-appointed custody arrangement
- The general fitness of each parent to care for the child
- The geographical proximity of the parents' homes or residences
- The age of the children
- The number of children in the home, including children from another marriage or relationship
- The child's preference, as stated in court, if the child is of a sufficient age and intelligence to make such a decision (for example, if the child is over age 12)
- Any history of domestic violence within the immediate family and particularly if perpetrated by either parent
- The general stability of the home environment
- The needs of the child (such as unique, documented emotional or medical needs)
Alternative Child Custody in New Jersey
Family courts in New Jersey can order a custody arrangement agreed upon by both parents unless it is determined that the requested custody arrangement does not serve the child's best interests. If parents in New Jersey are unable to agree on a child custody arrangement, a family court in New Jersey can require parents to submit a custody plan for the court's consideration before awarding custody.
For more information about New Jersey custody laws, refer to the New Jersey custody statutes or speak with a qualified attorney in New Jersey.