For unmarried parents or co-parents going through a divorce in New Jersey, child custody arrangements of the utmost importance. Child custody agreements determine not only where a child will live, but how much time he or she will spend with each co-parent and determine the legal right of each parent or guardian to make major decisions in the life of a child.
Today, our child custody attorney will define basic child custody terms in New Jersey and identify some common child custody arrangements.
Union County, NJ Child Custody Lawyer Defines Physical vs. Legal Custody
During the legal process of determining child custody, you may hear your Union County child custody lawyer use the terms physical custody, legal custody and parenting time. All of these terms may come to play in your child custody agreement, but are often incorrectly lumped in together as the same issue.
Physical child custody, otherwise known as residential child custody, refers to where a child will spend his or her overnights. In other words, where the child lives.
Parenting time is the legal name for time a non-custodial parent spends with their child. This can include time when a child is spending the night or smaller periods of time when the child will return to the custodial parent on the same day. This was previously known as “visitation”, but the name has been changed to more accurately reflect the fact that parents are caring for children and not merely “visiting”.
Legal child custody pertains to the right of each co-parent to be involved in making impactful decisions in a child’s life. Common examples include decisions regarding medical treatments, religious matters, education, and much more. Legal child custody does not extend to every day decision making, which is handled by whichever parent is caring for the child at that time.
Westfield Child Custody Agreement Attorney Identifies the Three Common Child Custody Arrangements
Regarding physical child custody, there are three types of child custody arrangements which your Westfield child custody agreement attorney may recommend based on your unique circumstance:
Sole physical custody is somewhat of a misnomer. Arrangements where a child spends less than two (2) nights per week with the non-custodial parents are considered sole custody arrangements in New Jersey. The concept of “sole” custody also ignores the quality parenting time which each parent will enjoy.
Shared physical custody refers to any arrangements which are not equal, but where both parents have a child for two (2) or more nights per week. Shared physical custody arrangements are very common, and allow parents the flexibility to both have ample parenting time within their schedules.
Joint physical custody arrangements entail both co-parents having custody of the child for equal time. Join physical custody is rare as most parents will want to develop a schedule which better suits the needs of their children.
Legal custody is either held jointly or will be under the sole control of a single parent. The vast majority of child custody agreements allow both parents to have joint legal custody unless one parent has been found to be unfit or has voluntarily waived their right to legal custody.
Contact a Linden Child Custody Arrangement Attorney Today
Child custody and family law attorney Edward S. Cooper takes pride in serving parents from local Union County communities including Linden, Plainfield, Westfield, Union, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, and all of Northern New Jersey. Attorney Cooper is passionate about client service, and makes returning phone calls, emails, and other inquiries his top priority. Our firm believes in keeping our clients involved and informed throughout the legal process, particularly when the issues are as important as securing an appropriate custody agreement for your family.