When parents separate, the reality for children is that they will now have two families and two homes in which to reside. Difficult decisions need to be made about how parents will share decision-making and day-to-day responsibility for their children. In New Jersey, there are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody denotes decision-making authority about major aspects of the children’s lives, such as where they will live, what schools they attend and what medical care they might receive. Physical custody denotes with whom the children will physically reside.
Parents are free – and encouraged – to resolve custody and parenting time between themselves. The New Jersey Superior Court offers mediation at no charge for parents involved in litigation, and most parentsreach agreements about how they will divide their child-rearing responsibilities, avoiding having to submit those issues to the court for decision.
When parents cannot agree on their custody or parenting arrangements, or one parent seeks theremoval of children from the jurisdictionwithout the agreement of the other, the decisions must be made by the court after a trial. If you go to trial on the issue of custody in New Jersey, the Family Court judge has great discretion in determining the custody arrangement that he or she considers to be in the best interest of your children. Custody matters are governed by N.J.S.A. 9:2-4. The New Jersey statute’s stated goal is to be gender neutral, i.e. there is no presumption in favor of either the father or mother, and neither parent has a superior right to the custody of their children. Each child custody dispute is unique and must be decided on the facts of the particular case.
One of the most heart-wrenching experiences for any parent is the legally-mandated separation from a child. Our attorneys will discuss with you the factors the Court considers when making a custody or removal determination, and your rights and obligations in your role as a parent. Our attorneys have the trial experience necessary to help you prepare and present your case to the court.
If you need to speak to an experienced attorney regarding your custody issues, contact the Law Office of Peter J. Laemers today for a free ½ hour consultation.