Being a parent is one of life’s greatest joys, so if you are facing divorce the realization that you may not have your child in your care every day can be distressing. Still, you want to do what is best for your child and that includes developing legal custody arrangements and physical custody arrangements that are in the best interests of your child.
Legal custody involves making major life decisions on behalf of the child. What health care the child will receive and where the child will go to school are examples of some of these decisions. Legal custody in New Jersey can be sole, meaning only one parent has the right to make these decisions, or it can be joint meaning the parents will need to work together to make these decisions.
Physical custody refers to where the child lives on a daily basis. Physical custody can be sole, meaning the child lives exclusively with one parent and the other parent has visitation periods with the child, or it can joint with the child living alternatively with each parent.
Factors in awarding custody
When making decisions on physical and legal custody of a child, the court will consider the following factors.
- Whether the parents are able to communicate and cooperate with one another in raising their child
- Each parent’s willingness to respect the child’s parenting time with the other parent
- Whether there is a history of domestic violence
- The child’s preference
- The child’s needs
- The home stability each parent can provide
- The desire for the continuity of the child’s schooling
- Each parent’s health and fitness
- How close each parents live from one another
- The quality time each parent spent with the child prior to separating
- Each parent’s job responsibilities
- The age of the child
- How many children will be cared for
This list is not all-exhaustive; there are other factors that may be considered as well. In the end, when making child custody decisions you will want to consider your child’s best interests and act accordingly.