Child custody is often a client’s number one concern in a divorce. It is a highly emotional process for both parties, as well as for their child, and can lead to some of the most contentious disputes between parents. During custody disputes, parents grapple with the potential that they may not see their child as frequently as before.
Experienced family lawyers are trained in state laws concerning child custody and can help parents negotiate a child custody agreement without going to trial. However, a court trial is necessary when parents disagree on the terms of custody, in which case a skilled family lawyer can help secure your custody rights. Trials are costly and can require a significant amount of preparation and legal knowledge. Custody trials may also lengthen the divorce process by months or even years, subsequently prolonging the stress and emotional strain put on you and your child.
Child Custody Arrangements
New Jersey distinguishes between two distinct forms of child custody.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s responsibility to make important decisions on behalf of their child, such as decisions concerning their health and education. Although both parents are typically recognized as legal custodians, legal custody can extend to only one parent when circumstances deem joint legal custody inappropriate.
Physical custody is often the most contentious topic in a divorce. It encompasses where a child will live and how much time they will spend with each parent.
There are three custody options in New Jersey:
- Joint custody
- Sole custody
- Other custody arrangements
None of these custody options are simple. Joint custody, which is common in New Jersey, can include many different living arrangements and residential schedules, as well as stipulations on how parents should consult one another to make decisions on behalf of their child. If one parent is granted sole custody, the other parent can still be granted visitation rights and other parental opportunities, which vary depending on the circumstances of the case. The final option is the most undefined. It leaves room for any other physical custodial arrangement that the court deems appropriate.
If parents disagree on the terms of legal and physical custody, the case goes to a trial, where a judge will make a decision that protects the best interests of the child. Judges weigh several factors when making custody decisions.
Some of the factors that judges consider include:
- How parental responsibilities were divided in the marriage
- The relationship you have with your child and how much quality time you normally spend with them
- Where your child currently lives and attends school
- Where you will live following the divorce
- Your employment status and income
- Your ability to provide a safe and stable environment for your child
- Any history of domestic abuse
The preference of the child can also be an important factor, so long as the child is recognized to be mature enough to make an informed decision.
As a result of these various factors, custody trials can be quite complex. Each parent may be expected to supply evidence demonstrating how they satisfy the criteria that judges consider for custody. In addition to providing legal representation, an experienced child custody attorney in Monmouth County can help you plan and organize evidence in preparation for trial.
Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Child Custody Case
Megan S. Murray is a detail-oriented family lawyer with years of experience in New Jersey family law and child custody. We understand what goes into child custody disputes, and we will work with you to understand your custody options. We are determined to provide you with personalized legal counsel and skilled representation to protect your parental rights and secure the best custody situation for your child.
Megan S. Murray
"Megan S. Murray is the founder of The Family Law Offices of Megan S. Murray. Megan founded her practice with a singular goal in mind: to provide quality, hands-on services to her clients. Megan has earned a reputation among her peers, colleagues and clients as a zealous advocate of the highest integrity, who achieves the best results for her clients through an intimate knowledge of the unique facts of each case and extensive knowledge of the law."Read Full Bio
Brian R. Murray
"Brian R. Murray, Esq., of counsel to The Family Law Offices of Megan S. Murray, is a highly experienced New Jersey attorney whose practice areas have included civil litigation, real estate, complex insurance litigation, and family law."Read Full Bio
Equitable ApproachMegan's goal is to reach the best possible settlement with the understanding that it is equitable to all parties.
Extensive ExperienceMegan's knowledge of all the nuances of the law has resulted in favorable outcomes for her clients.
Hands On ApproachMegan is dedicated to making herself readily accessible to clients through timely communication and prompt responsiveness.