If you have children, dealing with custody matters will understandably be one of the most important and most emotionally-charged aspects of your divorce. You and your spouse both want what is best for your children; but, as you go your separate ways, you may have different ideas about what makes the most sense going forward.
At Riordan & Associates, LLC, our Morris County child custody lawyers have extensive experience – both as advocates and as neutral mediators – in New Jersey custody matters; and we can help you develop and execute a thoughtful plan for achieving a desirable outcome in your divorce.
New Jersey’s child custody laws are somewhat complicated, and if you are seeking custody rights in Morris County, it is important to make sure you understand the key questions and issues that will be involved. One of the first things to understand is that there are actually three different types of custody in New Jersey: joint legal, joint physical and sole.
Joint Legal custody refers to the right to have an equal voice in important decisions regarding your children’s upbringing. This generally includes decisions regarding things like education, religion, health and general welfare. As a parent, it is understandable to want to have as much of a say in how your children are raised as possible, and we can help you be proactive about seeking the legal custody rights you desire.
In a strictly legal custody arrangement, one parent has more than 50% of the parenting time with the children, referred to as the parent of primary residence, and the other parent has less than 50% of the parenting time with the children, referred to as the parent of alternate residence. This is the most common type of custody.
Joint Physical custody (is what most people think of when custody comes to mind. This type of custody arrangement is where the parents each have 50% of the parenting time with the children. This is an equal custody arrangement both physically and legally. The Morris County courts consider a number of different factors in determining joint physical custody rights, and it will be important to consider these factors whether you are going through an amicable or contested divorce.
Sole Legal custody refers to one parent rendering all the decisions regarding the children’s education, religion, health and general welfare. This arrangement is generally applied to high conflict cases where the parents’ inability to agree on virtually anything is hampering the best interests of the children.
The Morris County courts can award joint or sole legal and physical custody. Although joint legal custody is most common, judges will award sole legal custody when doing so is in the best interests of the children involved.
Similarly, in determining physical custody rights, Morris County judges will seek to determine what type of living arrangements and visitation schedules make the most sense given the children’s needs and the parents’ individual circumstances. When negotiating a divorce settlement agreement, you will generally want to address similar considerations as well.
In addition to representing clients during the divorce process, we also regularly assist divorced parents with post-judgment custody matters, including modifications, relocations and enforcement. As with initial custody determinations, in these matters serving the children’s best interests must always be the primary consideration.
Whether you need to seek a modification, you are seeking to relocate or you need to enforce your current custody arrangement, our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the process as quickly and painlessly as possible.
If you would like more information about establishing or enforcing child custody rights in Morris County, we invite you to contact us for a one-on-one, confidential consultation. To schedule an appointment, call our offices at (973) 537-1700 or contact us online today.