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How Does Joint Custody Work in New Jersey?

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When a couple gets divorced, the division of property and determining alimony may seem unimportant compared to child custody. Many parents are devastated by the thought of being unable to see their child every day, thus making a push to receive primary custody. If this is the case, depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce and the capabilities of each parent, the judge may award joint custody. However, you’ll want to keep reading to familiarize yourself with this option and learn why it’s in your best interest to enlist the help of a Somerset County child custody attorney to help you through these matters.

What Is Joint Custody?

Joint custody is a way to split legal responsibility for the child. There are two forms of custody – physical and legal. Legal custody refers to the fact that both parents have a say in important matters related to the child, such as where they go to school, religion, and medical treatment. Physical custody refers to who has the child in their care. When possible, judges will try to award joint physical and legal custody.

What Constitutes the Best Interest of the Child?

Generally, a judge will award custody based on the child’s best interest. This essentially means determining what is ideal for the child’s well-being. In New Jersey, the courts often begin assuming each parent is fit. However, as they learn the facts of the case, the custody split will vary based on what is best for the child. Joint custody requires high levels of cooperation and communication from both parents, which can be difficult for some couples.

Most courts strive to provide joint custody, as this is often critical to the child’s well-being, allowing them to retain a relationship with both parents. However, if one parent is not fit, because they have a history of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse issues, the courts will consider this before likely granting full custody to the other parent.

What Should I Do if My Ex Does Not Adhere to the Custody Plan?

When the custody plan is finalized, and you and your ex are officially following a court-ordered plan, you may think your legal troubles are over. However, this is not always true, as many parents will take it upon themselves to ignore or disregard the terms and conditions of the custody agreement. Whether your ex does not adhere to the schedule or fails to consult you as required by the agreement before making a decision, this can be incredibly frustrating. However, you should not retaliate, as this can be used against you. Instead, you’ll want to document each violation of the agreement and contact your attorney as soon as possible for legal assistance.

At the Siragusa Law Firm, we understand how important child custody is to you. That’s why our team is dedicated to fighting for the best interest of your family. We will do everything possible to ensure your custody agreement is fair and to help you navigate any issues your ex-spouse may cause following the finalization of the agreement. Contact us today to learn how we can guide you through this complex process.

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