Types of Custody in Hackensack

Divorcing or separating from a spouse often creates concern about maintaining relationships with children. New Jersey law favors both parents having substantial time and involvement with their children. Thus, in the case of two fit and involved parents, each parent will be entitled to play an active role in their children’s day-to-day lives.

The child custody attorneys at the Moscowitz Law Group can support any parent confronting custody issues. Resolving custody questions requires an understanding of the types of custody and how the Court approaches custody decisions.

Parents who decide to live separately must develop a parenting plan describing how they will manage their responsibilities for raising their children. Knowing the types of custody in Hackensack is essential for creating a workable parenting plan.

What It Means to Have Legal Custody

Legal custody means the right and responsibility of a parent to make major decisions affecting their child’s welfare. Thus, a parent in Hackensack with legal custody has the right to participate in making important decisions for a child.

The parent supervising a child at the time usually makes decisions about when to do homework or chores, whether the child can have screen time, and discipline for misbehavior. The parent with legal custody can make major decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, religion, and similar issues.

The Court generally awards joint (shared) legal custody unless there is a reason why the parents should not share decision-making power. Our laws favor joint legal custody to ensure that both parents are involved in parenting their child.

Sometimes, one parent has the authority over some areas, and the other parent has the authority in other areas.

The Court might award one parent sole legal custody when the parents are unable to communicate constructively, one parent is incapacitated or unfit, or a parent seems uninterested in maintaining contact with the child. Even when one parent has sole legal custody, the other parent usually retains the right to information about the child’s education, medical condition, and treatment even if they do not have a say in these matters.

Various Options for Physical Custody

Physical custody determines which parent a child resides with. N.J.S.A. § 9:2-4(c) declares it the State’s public policy “to assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage and that it is in the public interest to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy.” In other words, the law suggests that shared custody arrangements promote this policy. Shared custody does not have to mean parents split time exactly 50/50. Practical considerations could prevent an equal split in many cases. Shared custody simply means that each parent, even the non-custodial parent, will have substantial time with the child in their case. That said, 50/50 shared custody arrangements are swiftly becoming the preferred arrangement in New Jersey as far as the Court is concerned.

The Court encourages parents to find a workable arrangement that allows each parent substantial time with the children, including overnight stays. An attorney with the Moskowitz Law Group can advise a parent about the elements Courts look for in shared parenting arrangements.

Sometimes, the Court finds that a shared custody arrangement will not serve the children best. Shared custody requires parents to communicate frequently and effectively and provide a safe, healthy, and encouraging home environment for their children and some parents cannot do so. When parental interactions are violent, threatening, or disruptive, a Court in Hackensack might decide that awarding primary custody to one parent and regular visitation to the other is best for the children.

In rare cases where a parent has a substantial adverse effect on a child due to gross misconduct, unfitness, or neglect, the Court may award sole physical custody to the other parent. This means that the child resides with only one parent and the other parent does not see the child at all. That said, the Court will often allow an unfit parent to someday attempt to show changed circumstances that they have rehabilitated themselves to a degree where they should have some contact with the child again.

The Children’s Best Interests Guide Every Custody Decision

Every custody decision affecting children considers what is in the child’s best interests. Even when parents develop a parenting plan together and agree on it, a judge may reject the agreement if they feel it is not in a child’s best interests. This, however, is incredibly rare.

There are multiple factors a judge could consider when evaluating a plan to determine whether it serves a child’s best interests. These include practical considerations like how far apart the parents live, their work schedules, and their ability to provide transportation. Each parent’s willingness and ability to work with the other parent to make decisions and support the child is critical—when parents in Hackensack cannot do this, a judge might decide certain types of custody are not in the child’s best interests.

Issues like a history of domestic violence, child abuse, or convictions concerning the sexual exploitation of children can have a significant impact on custody decisions. However, a parent may retain the right to visitation even when they have a troubling history. It all depends on the parent and child’s circumstances. Parents who believe their co-parent is unfit or should not be alone with the children should consult a family law attorney to explore options to protect their child.

Consult a Hackensack Attorney About the Types of Custody

Child custody issues can be highly contentious. On the other hand, parents could be cooperative and supportive of each other’s relationships with their children. Regardless of where you and your co-parent fall on this spectrum, you need legal help when developing your parenting plan. The attorneys at the Moskowitz Law Group have the knowledge and skills you need.

The various types of custody in Hackensack provide the opportunity to establish a stable arrangement that supports your children’s wellbeing. Get started today.

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