Understanding Child Custody Determination in New Jersey: What You Need to Know

Child custody is a significant aspect of divorce or separation cases involving children. In New Jersey, custody determination is based on the best interests of the child, and several factors are considered by the courts to determine the most suitable custody arrangement. Here’s what you need to know about how custody is determined in New Jersey.

  1. Legal vs. Physical Custody: In New Jersey, custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions about the child’s welfare, such as education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody relates to the child’s living arrangements and visitation schedules.
  2. Best Interests of the Child: The primary consideration in custody determination in New Jersey is the best interests of the child. The court assesses various factors, including the child’s age, health, safety, and well-being, the parents’ ability to provide for the child’s needs, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the child’s preferences if they are of a certain age.
  3. Mediation and Parenting Plans: New Jersey encourages parents to reach a custody agreement through mediation and develop a parenting plan that outlines the custody and visitation arrangements. The court may also require parents to attend parenting education programs to help them co-parent effectively.
  4. Types of Custody: New Jersey recognizes different types of custody, including sole custody, joint custody, and shared custody. Sole custody grants one parent the primary responsibility for the child, while joint custody involves both parents sharing legal and physical custody. Shared custody, on the other hand, requires both parents to have equal time and responsibility for the child.
  5. Court Decisions: If parents are unable to reach a custody agreement, the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the child. The court may appoint a custody expert to conduct a custody evaluation and make a recommendation as to an appropriate custody arrangement.

If you need assistance with child custody matters, or to learn more about how mediation can benefit you in your divorce or separation, contact our experienced team for knowledgeable and compassionate support. We are ready to provide personalized information and support to help you achieve a fair and amicable resolution. Schedule a free consultation to get started!

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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