When New Jersey parents divorce, they will need to figure out their child custody situation. To do this, they will need to understand the types of child custody and what each implies for their family situation.
Physical and legal custody
There are two main types of custody that are discussed as child custody issues are being resolved. When parents discuss where children will live, they are discussing physical custody. When they discuss how important decisions related to education, health and religious upbringing, for example, are made, they are discussing legal custody.
Sole and joint custody
For the two types, parents can be awarded either joint or sole custody. Under joint custody, parents share the responsibilities of both where the children will live and how important decisions regarding their upbringing will be made. Under sole custody, one parent will be mostly responsible for housing the children or making important decisions. When custody is awarded, parents will sometimes share joint physical and legal custody. Other times, a parent might receive sole physical custody but joint legal custody. Finally, in some cases, the court might decide that it is in the child’s best interest for one parent to have sole physical and legal custody.
What goes into a custody decision?
Before physical and legal custody are awarded, certain factors must be evaluated. These include:
- Each person’s parenting ability
- Each parent’s schedule
- The child’s educational, activity and medical-needs schedule
- The location and physical environment of each parent’s home
Custody arrangements are complex. When parents are awarded or agree to joint custody, they need to be aware that this will take cooperation between them to make it work. It will also take flexibility and patience and parents will need to have a clearly crafted schedule and plan to guide them through the process.