New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer

New Jersey Child Custody Lawyers

New Jersey Child Custody

If you are contemplating divorce, and you have children, child custody is most definitely one of your top concerns. It is important to understand that the children are the real victims in a contentious divorce.  Try to put your hurt feelings and negative emotions away and focus on what is in the best interest of your child and everyone involved.  Experienced New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer Salvatore A. Simeone offers a free consultation.  Allow us to help you better understand child custody law and how to create a child custody arrangements that works best for you and your child.

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The first thing you need to understand is child custody is broken into two main parts.  The two main parts are legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Establishing how important child health, education and general welfare decisions are made 

Legal custody establishes if one or both parents will be responsible for making decisions about the child’s health, education, and general welfare. Legal custody identifies who will be making all the major decisions around a child’s life.  In 99% of the divorce cases in New Jersey, joint legal custody is the predominate choice used, regardless of what the parent time schedule is.  It is almost always joint legal custody.

Joint Legal Custody

Both parents are expected to consult and agree on all decisions relating to the child other than those that occur on a day-to-day basis.  So not what a child is going to eat that day, but important decisions like, “Does a child have a need for medicine or not? Does a child need braces or not? Will a child attend private school or not? Will your child play football or not?  In a joint legal custody arrangements, the parents need to come to an agreement on what is best for the child. If the parents in a joint custody arrangements can’t agree they will need to go back to court, get a mediator, or a parent coordinator.

Sole Custody

The other option is Sole Custody.  This is very rare, but Sole Custody establishes that only one parent make the major decisions regarding a child.  Sole Custody is used when one parent interferes with the best interest of the children to the extent that the other parent has to go to court and demonstrate to the judge that, “No matter what I say, the other parent will refuse. The doctors say a child needs ADHD medicine, the parent says no.  A teacher say a child needs individualized education program at school, the parent says no. The doctor says this, the parent says no. The teacher says this, the parent says no.”

Recent New Jersey case law talks about the behavior one parent must display in order for the court to award the other parent sole legal custody.  Sole legal custody means the custodial parent simply tells the other parent what’s happening, with no consultation.  No agreement is necessary.  All decisions about the health, education and general welfare of a child is made by the sole custody parent and then communicated to other parent (Sally’s graduation is June 16th.  Sally is going for braces next week. Sally’s got a doctor appointment next week, and so on.  This is not, “Do you agree?”  It is, “Do you want to be there?” That’s it.  It is horrible if you’re the person with nothing.

Physical Custody

In a New Jersey Divorce, the courts refer to the time each parent spends with a child as parenting time.  Physical custody establishes the parenting time schedule.  The main parent time schedule is broken down in a 14 day period.  If each parent has a child for 7 over nights, in a typical two week period, then the physical custody arrangement is considered a 50/50 or shared physical custody arrangement.  If one parent has a child more nights than the other parent, for example one parent has a child for 10 nights and the other parent has a child for 4 nights then one parent is considered the parent of primary residence and the other is considered the parent of alternate residence.  The convention physical custody arrangement today is 9/5.  This means that the parent of primary residence has the child for 9 nights and the parent of alternate residence has the child for 5 nights.  In this case the parent of alternate residence might have the child every Wednesday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday every other week.  Some parents today are more interested in a creating a 8/6 or a 7/7 shared custody arrangement.  You want to consider what is in the best interest of all the parties involved.

When establishing a physical custody arrangement it is also important to establish what will happen on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Birthdays, Major Holidays, and other important dates throughout the year.

Another thing to understand is Child Support is impacted by the physical custody schedule.  For example, if two parents earn similar salaries, and they have a 50/50 shared physical custody arrangement then there won’t be much child support awarded.  Whereas, if the parent of primary residence has a child for 10 nights and the other parent 4 nights, then the parent of primary residence will receive a lot more child support.  Child Support is impacted by how many the number of overnights each parent has.

Experienced New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer Salvatore A. Simeone will work together with you and the other party to help you come up with a child custody plan that works well for you.  If you have any child custody questions, please contact our law office.  We offer a free consultation.

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