Monmouth County Child Custody Lawyers
When a child custody arrangement cannot be reached, a New Jersey family court judge will consider a range of factors before deciding based on what is in the best interests of the child. If you are going through a divorce and have questions or concerns about custody, visitation, child support, or other issues, do not hesitate to contact our Monmouth County child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C.
What Are the Different Types of Child Custody in New Jersey?
Child custody is the legal responsibility of caring for a minor child and who has the right to make legal decisions for them. A judge may order any of the following types of custody based on what is in the best interest of the child:
- Legal custody: This type of custody determines which parent is responsible for making important legal decisions on behalf of the child. This may include decisions related to the child’s education, medical care, religious studies, and other major life decisions.
- Physical custody: This refers to the home where the child will physically reside. If the parents have joint custody, they generally split time with the child equally, or in a way that works best for the child and the parents. If one parent has sole custody, the child will reside with that parent, and the other parent may have scheduled visitation with the child.
- Joint custody: This is the most common custody arrangement since it allows both parents to remain actively involved in the child’s life. Typically, the primary custodial parent makes most of the day-to-day decisions related to the child and will consult with the non-custodial parent when appropriate. With joint custody, both parents are responsible for making decisions related to the child’s medical care, education, and overall well-being.
- Sole custody: With this type of custody arrangement, one parent has custody of the child and is responsible for making all major decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare, as well as day-to-day decisions about this child. The parent with sole custody is not legally required to consult with the non-custodial parent about these decisions. In most cases, sole custody is awarded when one parent is considered unfit.
- Split custody: This occurs when parents have more than one child, and each parent is awarded custody. This is uncommon since it is not generally in the best interest of the children to be split up.
What Factors Are Considered When Making Child Custody Decisions?
In New Jersey, the child’s best interests will always be the top priority when making custody-related decisions. Ideally, the child will spend time with both parents, but there are scenarios when this is not in the best interests of the child. A family court judge will likely consider the following factors when making child custody decisions:
- Both spouses’ parenting skills.
- How the child interacts with the parents and other siblings.
- The stability of the home environment.
- The physical and mental health of both parents.
- Whether one or both parents have employment responsibilities that include long hours or frequent travel.
- Whether there is a history of domestic violence or substance abuse in the home.
- If the child is 12 years of age or younger and prefers to live with one parent over the other.
- Other factors that could impact the child’s best interests.
What Are Examples of Common Custody Disputes?
It is not uncommon for parents to disagree with a custody-related decision, particularly when the parents do not have the same decision-making power. However, if a parent fails to follow the court order, there may be legal consequences, including a modification to the parenting plan, loss of parenting time and visitation, and financial penalties. Examples of violations include ignoring the court order regarding custody or visitation, taking the child out of the jurisdiction without the other parent’s permission, or refusing to allow the child to spend time with the other parent.
In some cases, custody disputes can be resolved through mediation, which is an alternative dispute resolution method where both parties meet with a mediator to discuss their issues in the hopes of reaching a settlement. Ultimately, mediation is a conflict resolution process that is less expensive, time-consuming, and stressful than litigation. However, not all couples can resolve their custody issues through mediation. If this is the case, the next step is to go to court where a family court judge will consider all the relevant facts and make a decision on custody.
Is it Possible to Modify a Custody Agreement?
There are circumstances where modifying an existing custody agreement is warranted. For example, if one parent moves to another state, the child’s physical or emotional needs have changed, or there is evidence of abuse in the home, the court may modify the custody agreement. However, the parent requesting the change might have to go through the following two-step process:
- Convince the family court judge that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the initial order was issued.
- If the parent has met the changed-circumstances threshold requirement, the judge may hold a plenary hearing to determine whether a modification to the custody agreement is in the child’s best interests.
How Are Child Custody Orders Enforced?
In New Jersey, there are two ways that custody agreements are enforced by the courts, including the following:
- Motion to Enforce Litigant’s Rights: This may result in monetary fines or possible incarceration.
- Additional Remedies: This may include the following:
- Temporary or permanent modifications to the custody arrangement.
- Compensatory times with the children.
- Economic sanctions.
- Counseling for children or parents.
- Pick-up and return of child must occur in public places.
- Modifying transportation arrangements.
- Participation in an approved community service program.
How Can a Monmouth County Child Custody Lawyer Help Me with My Case?
Child custody disputes are among the most complicated family law issues to resolve. A child custody lawyer will discuss the details of your case, review the options that are available to you, and recommend a strategy that will help you reach the best possible outcome.
Our Monmouth County child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have a comprehensive understanding of New Jersey child custody statutes, as well as the operations of the court system. We have access to a range of legal resources that will be invaluable to your case.
Monmouth County Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Assist Clients with Custody Issues
If you have questions or concerns about child custody, do not hesitate to contact our Monmouth County child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, Morris Plains, and Monmouth County.