Fort Lee Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody can be the most stressful decision that parents make when they divorce or live separately. If you and your co-parent are no longer living together, the children have legal rights that need protection, and you have rights as well.
If you have children and are facing custody issues, a Fort Lee child custody lawyer can help you gather the facts and documents necessary to support your family. Conflict over custody and parenting rights can be particularly intense and challenging. Our dedicated team of local family attorneys understands what is at stake and is ready to advocate for you.
Types of Child Custody Arrangements
There are two types of custody. Legal custody refers to decision-making authority. A parent with legal custody can make decisions about the child’s health, education, religion, and other issues. Physical custody refers to where the child lives. Custody plans must address both legal and physical custody.
A custody agreement will ultimately be filed with the court. A knowledgeable Fort Lee attorney could help parents draft a child custody arrangement that supports the best interest of the child. This is the standard of review that family court judges always apply in custody cases.
Both legal and physical custody can be either sole, joint, or shared. State courts prefer joint legal custody, meaning both parents have equal decision-making ability. Shared physical custody generally means a child spends more than about two overnights per week with each parent. These legal distinctions are important for both child support calculations and legal residency for school attendance.
How is Child Custody Decided for Fort Lee Parents?
Many parents can agree on a custody plan and the courts prefer these arrangements. However, if custody is contested, a Fort Lee lawyer with expertise in this area can explain the factors and proofs necessary for a child custody trial.
Courts do not prefer to have either mother or father as the parent of “primary residence.” A judge will review things like the ability of each parent to provide for the children and the parent’s existing relationship. The mental and physical health of each parent will be critical and, depending on the age of the child, a court may consider that child’s preferences.
The New Jersey Child Custody Statute outlines many other factors to be considered including:
- The parents’ ability to agree, communicate, and cooperate
- The needs and ages of the children
- Any history of violence or other factors affecting the safety of the child or co-parent
Sometimes, one parent may allege that the co-parent is “unfit” to have any custody whatsoever. It is difficult to prove that a parent is unfit, and these trials are often lengthy and costly. The court may appoint a mental health professional to do an expert custody evaluation and make recommendations. A court might find a parent unfit if proof shows that they have a substance abuse problem or mental illness, or there is a history of violence in the home or against the child. If the co-parent is neglectful, fails to protect the child, or is “grossly immoral,” they may lose custody.
Evidence in these cases can include documentation (medical, school, or police records, for example), video or social media proof, and witness testimony. An experienced attorney may help gather the kind of evidence needed to prove unfitness in a child custody case.
Connect with A Fort Lee Child Custody Attorney Today
The welfare of the children is one of the biggest concerns when a family separates. Perhaps you and your co-parent can create a parenting plan that meets the children’s needs but serious conflicts can arise in cases of separation and divorce, creating stress and turmoil. Our team of Fort Lee child custody lawyers can offer advice and advocate for the best result for you and your children. Call now to learn more.