If you are going through a divorce and need to make child custody arrangements for the first time, it can often feel overwhelming. Even if all you want to do is modify an existing arrangement, it can be difficult to know where to start. Couples face this issue on a daily basis, so there are a lot of parents in your shoes.
In fact, according to the New Jersey Courts website, there were 1,929 active divorce cases in Middlesex County, New Jersey as of February 2021.
If you’re facing a child custody battle, you’ll want the help of a qualified family law attorney in Middlesex County, New Jersey to work through the often confusing and sometimes conflicting paperwork, rules, and orders. Our attorneys at Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, & Taus, P.C. are here to help meet all of your legal needs. With over 80 years of combined experience helping clients just like you, we’re proud to do all that we can to help you and your family move forward.
There are two ways you can set up an initial custody arrangement — one is to work with the other parent and come up with an agreement together. This, of course, is the least expensive and most efficient way to come up with an agreement; however, depending on the relationship you have with your co-parent, this may not be possible.
The other method is to work through an attorney, who can act as a mediator between you and the other parent. A skilled attorney will work out terms that are fair for you while also prioritizing what’s best for your child.
Many parents assume that just because the child is residing with them, they have legal custody. That’s not necessarily true. Physical custody is with whom your child resides.
Legal custody is the right to make decisions on behalf of your child, such as which school they will attend, which doctor they will see, or whether they should go to a summer camp. It’s possible, though uncommon, for one parent to have physical custody while the other has legal custody.
There are four different types of custody that can be considered: sole physical custody, joint physical custody, sole legal custody, and joint legal custody.
Sole Physical Custody - This means that your child lives with one parent and may or may not have visitation with the other.
Joint Physical Custody - This means the child resides with both parents according to a set schedule (determined by a judicial officer or the parents).
Sole Legal Custody - This means that only one parent is making decisions for the child.
Joint Legal Custody - This means that both parents can make decisions for the child.
When awarding custody, Middlesex County, New Jersey courts will look at several factors, including:
The existing relationship the child has with each parent
Which parent makes the most decisions regarding the child
The best interests of the child
How to involve both parents as much as possible
Maybe the custody arrangement you and your co-parent agreed to years ago is no longer working, or you or your co-parent have gone through some significant life changes. You may be able to provide more parenting time because you have a new job that no longer requires travel, or you’re no longer caring for another relative. Or perhaps you need to move out of state, which would reduce parenting time or require a child to move out of state with you.
Or maybe a relative should now be granted visitation rights after a life change, such as a grandparent or sibling, but the existing agreement bars them from having those rights.
Whatever the circumstances, you always have the right to ask the judge to revise or alter the existing agreement. With an experienced child custody attorney on your side, you can pursue modifications that can help accommodate your new circumstances.
At the end of the day, it can be difficult to parse out exactly how much time you and your former spouse should each have with your child, or when visitations should occur and for how long. Not to mention which parent should be allowed to make decisions for your child, or who else should be allowed to have visitation rights with your child.
In order to work out the best possible arrangement for yourself, your child, and your former spouse, you may want to think about working with a family law attorney who focuses on child custody cases. No matter what challenges you may be facing, our experienced attorneys at Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, & Taus, P.C. are prepared to protect your rights as a parent and help you seek the best possible outcome for your case. Call or reach out today to schedule a free consultation.
Here at Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, & Taus, P.C., our attorneys will give you the personal and individualized attention you deserve. We’ll work alongside you to create the best child custody arrangement possible for you and your child using our decades of legal experience on your behalf. If you’re located in the New Jersey areas of Somerset, Morris, Passaic, Essex, and Bergen Counties, or anywhere else in the state, contact us today for a free case consultation.