Custody and Parenting Time
Perhaps the most emotional and litigious part of a divorce, or the end of the relationship of unmarried parents, are those surrounding the care and custody of children. The “best interests of the child” are the focus in determining a custodial arrangement. Parents typically disagree on what is in their children’s best interests.
New Jersey Court Rules require parents to initially address custody of their minor children. If the parties need assistance, the Court offers parenting mediation after the first Case Management Conference. If the parties cannot reach a parenting agreement, a “best interest evaluation” will need to be completed by a custody expert, who will interview the parties and the children. The custody expert will offer an expert opinion to the Court about what is in the “best interests of the child.”
Custody has two components: legal and residential. Legal custodians collaborate concerning the major decisions in a child’s life, including education and medical decisions. Most parents have joint legal custody, except in some cases, where for various reasons that might not be appropriate, and one parent may seek sole legal custody. N.J.S.A. 9:2-4 Custody of Child; rights of both parents considered.
Residential/Physical custody refers to where children live and the children’s schedule with their parents. There are numerous possibilities for residential custody. The custody arrangement needs to consider the parenting schedules during the school year, holidays, birthdays, school vacations, special events, and summer vacation. Depending on your children’s best interest, parents can agree to an equal time-sharing custodial arrangement, alternate weekends, midweek visits, and other arrangements based on the parent’s work schedules.
At Lomberg Del Vescovo & Pollak, we advocate for you and your child in addressing the “Best Interest of the Child” in establishing a parenting agreement that provides your children with stability and security and further permits both parents to raise their children.
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