Should I Hire A Lawyer For Child Custody In NJ?
Child custody disputes are one of the most difficult family law situations to settle. Occasionally, parents are agreeable in how they’ll share or divide custody but, in many situations, intervention is needed. If this occurs, the case will go to either mediation or court. New Jersey, like other states, has specific laws relating to child custody, and, if an agreement cannot be made by the parents and mediation fails, the case will be heard by a New Jersey Superior Court judge.
“Parents who find themselves in the middle of a dispute should contact a child custody attorney in NJ as soon as possible. A knowledgeable lawyer can help them fight for what is best for the child.”Casey Breslow, New Jersey Family Lawyer, Breslow Law Offices
Types of Child Custody in New Jersey
In the State of New Jersey, there is no one size fits all solution because each situation is different. A legal custody dispute will be settled differently for every family. However, there are two types of custody that will apply to every case.
This is where the child will spend their time. Sometimes one parent’s home is the child’s primary residence and, in some cases, a judge will order joint custody which means both parents share legal physical custody equally.
This type of custody determines which parent is responsible for decision-making on behalf of the child, usually for major life decisions, including education, religion, and medical issues. A judge will often give this right to both parents, or if circumstances warrant it, to one parent.
If one parent is given full physical custody of a child, that parent is the “custodial” parent and the other parent is referred to as the “non-custodial” parent. In cases where one parent receives all rights to the child, this is “sole custody.”
Factors Determining Child Custody In NJ
Custody rulings in New Jersey will not be awarded based on what the parents want, judges will always pursue a custody solution that is in the best interest of the child. Courts initially almost always start with the belief a child will thrive when they spend time with both parents, but this can change as the court case progresses depending upon what information emerges. Factors the judge will look at when deciding a case include:
- Parenting skills
- Interaction of the child with parents and siblings
- Stability in the home
- Parents’ fitness (i.e. physical and mental health)
- Employment responsibilities (i.e. frequent traveler or long hours)
- Domestic violence or substance abuse history (if any)
- Child preference for residence (for ages 12 and older)
- Any other factors that would impact the well-being of the child
In cases where parents are pursuing joint custody, the judge will also look at the parents’ ability to communicate and cooperate with one another with their child’s best interest in mind.
Parenting Time Guidelines New Jersey
In the State of New Jersey, parental visitation with a child is referred to as “parenting time.” The State encourages parents amicably work out an agreeable and reasonable visitation schedule (subject to court approval). There is no specific formula for determining visitation for a non-custodial parent. Usually, a common solution is in cases where the child primarily lives with one parent, the other parent will get every other weekend, alternating holidays, and a portion of summer vacation. However, this can vary depending on the family’s individual circumstances.
New Jersey Family Law also allows grandparents, or other non-parental adults who have a close relationship with the child, to have visitation rights. Like other parenting time, a judge will make the decision based on what is best for the child.
Generally, parenting time is unsupervised but in cases where violence, substance abuse, or another situation is present that is deemed risky for the child, supervised visitation may be court-ordered. Children may also be permitted to give their opinion in formal parenting time court-ordered decisions if the court determines the child mature enough to make this type of decision.
Conflicts After Custody is Decided
New Jersey takes custody or visitation orders seriously. If one parent doesn’t follow the court order and this impacts the rights of the child or the other parent, this is considered to be a violation. These situations include the following:
- Ignores the court order regarding custody or visitation.
- Refuses the other parent’s right to take the child for either joint custody time or parenting time.
- Takes the child out of the jurisdiction without the other parent’s permission.
- Conceals the child’s whereabouts.
It’s important to understand New Jersey Law separates child custody and child support issues. A parent cannot withhold parenting time from the other parent, even if the other parent violates a child support order. Enforcing child support is a separate issue and parents can consult with an NJ family law attorney to get child support issues resolved.
How a Child Custody Lawyer in NJ Can Help
If you are involved in a child custody dispute, you’ll want an experienced family law attorney on your side. The attorneys at the Breslow Law Offices have been helping families resolve conflicts since 1978. Attorney Roy W. Breslow has spent more than four decades in both public and private practice roles including previous roles as a prosecutor and deputy attorney general. Attorney Casey Breslow has also served both sides of the legal aisle, having previously served in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and has now joined her father’s practice. With more than 45 years of combined experience in family law matters, including child custody, child support, and divorce, the Breslows thoroughly understand the intricacies associated with New Jersey Family Law and will work hard to ensure you and your child receive the best outcome.
“We understand how difficult and emotionally draining family law issues can be and will be with you every step of the way. To learn more information about a child custody issue or to receive a free consultation about another family law matter, contact our office today. We will protect you and your rights!”Casey Breslow, New Jersey Family Lawyer, Breslow Law Offices