Just as every family is unique, the decisions made regarding custody will depend on a variety of unique issues. New Jersey parents should become familiar with the types of custody available as they work towards an agreement.
Legal and physical custody is not the same thing
The types of custody parents must discuss are legal and physical custody. When a parent is awarded physical custody of their child, the child will primarily reside in that parent’s home. The other parent will have visitation rights. When a parent is awarded legal custody, that parent will be responsible for making major decisions affecting the child’s life, such as those related to their education, their religious upbringing or even their overall health.
Sole and joint custody
When legal and physical custody are decided, the court might grant sole custody to one parent or joint custody to both parents. When it comes to legal custody, parents often receive joint custody, so they are both responsible for making those major decisions. Sole custody, however, is more complex, and a parent might receive sole physical custody but joint legal custody as physical custody decisions are made looking at factors such as the proximity of each parent’s home to the other and the impact of constant changes in the children’s life might have on them.
What the court will look at when deciding on custody
As the court prepares to award custody, there are some factors that they will consider. These include:
• How old the child is
• What the child’s preference is when it comes to physical custody
• Each parent’s ability to care for the child
• Each parent’s relationship with the child
Understanding the types of custody and how they are awarded can help estranged couples reach a positive parenting agreement. They do need to remember, however, that the child’s best interests must come first.