Essex County Child Custody Lawyer
When a family law case involves children, family courts are obligated to act in the best interest of each child. A judge may consider many factors when deciding child custody and would review any agreement to ensure that it follows the law, protects each parents’ rights, and does not harm the children.
Parenting plans can be a complex part of any family law case, but a well-practiced family attorney could review your case and help you create a suitable child custody plan. If you need to create a new parenting plan or modify an existing one, consider speaking with an Essex County child custody lawyer.
Custody and Parenting Time
Essex County has two forms of child custody: physical custody, which refers to where children spend their time, and legal custody, which gives parents the right to make decisions on behalf of a child. Parents can decide for themselves which person will have primary physical custody and which person will have visitation rights.
Parents may alternatively choose to seek joint physical custody and share parenting time equally. If parents cannot agree about custody, a judge would decide the issue for them.
All decisions regarding child custody must be reviewed by a judge to make sure that the parenting plan is in the best interests of the children. When considering whether to approve a custody agreement, the judge may consider the relationship between the children and the parents, the stability of the parents’ home environments, how well the parents communicate with each other, and other factors, as established in New Jersey Revised Statutes §9:2-4(c).
Understanding Parenting Plans
During a child custody case, parents and their Essex County attorneys will create a legally-binding document called a parenting plan that assigns custody and visitation rights to each person. New Jersey law encourages parents to make these determinations themselves with minimal interference from the court.
A parenting plan can establish whatever type of schedule works best for both parents and address issues like where the children will spend holidays and birthdays or where they will attend school. Practical considerations like the parents’ work schedules or the children’s extracurricular activities can also be built into the parenting plan so that all parties understand where the children will be and who is taking care of them.
Modifying Child Custody Agreements
Parents must follow the terms set out in these contracts until their children are adults. Consequently, many parenting plans need to be adjusted as children age and their parents’ circumstances change. As an example, parents may need to create a new agreement if one party changes jobs or if the children begin a new activity that affects the timesharing schedule.
In addition to modifying parenting plans, child custody lawyers in Essex County may also need to enforce them if one parent fails to follow the agreement. Repeatedly violating a child custody agreement could be grounds for a judge to change the agreement entirely and reduce the offending parent’s visitation time or increase their child support.
Get Help from an Essex County Child Custody Attorney
Child custody cases can be fraught with emotional turmoil. Many parents want as much time as possible with their children and have difficulty sharing this time with their former partner. Under the law, parents are expected to work together in child custody matters and create a parenting plan that keeps their children healthy, happy, and safe.
If you want more time with your kids or need help enforcing the terms of an existing parenting agreement, an Essex County child custody lawyer could help you learn more about the parenting options available to you. Schedule an appointment today to get started.