Child Custody Attorneys Morris County, NJ
Helping Families across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and Morris County
As tumultuous or difficult as your divorce can sometimes seem, it is important to remember that you are dissolving your legal relationship with your spouse, and not with your children. New Jersey law recognizes the important that both parents have on the health and development of children, so barring extreme circumstances such as a relocation or a history of domestic violence, both you and your spouse can expect to share some form of child custody and parenting time moving forward
However, the way in which these issues are decided can often be as important as the actual child custody decision itself. At Jacobs Berger, we believe in pursuing open communication, negotiation, and mediation before seeking more aggressive forms of litigation when deciding such important family law issues. Our goal is to help maintain the stability of your life, and the lives of your children, while building the foundation for both a successful co-parent relationship with your partner moving forward, and a child custody and parenting time plan which works for you.
Contact our firm today to schedule a confidential case assessment discussing your unique needs and concerns regarding your divorce or legal relationship dissolution, and your pending child custody and visitation settlement.
Physical and Legal Custody in Morris County, NJ
New Jersey courts are guided by the best interests of the child standard when making custodial decisions. This means that the court considers what would be best for the child(ren) when settling matters of custody and parenting time. In general, New Jersey courts believe that it is in the child’s best interest to spend as much time as possible with both parents, so unless the parents live far apart due to a relocation, or there is a question of domestic violence or substance abuse, you can expect to share parenting time with your children on a roughly 50/50 basis.
However, just because you share parenting time of your children, does not mean you will have equal legal rights concerning making decisions about your children’s lives, or equal responsibility for child support payments.
During the initial stages of the divorce process or when unmarried parents or parents have issues concerning children, decisions must be made about the following types of custody:
- Legal custody. Legal custody is the authority to make significant decisions on behalf of your child. Decisions about religious upbringing, education and other choices that affect your child remain your responsibility if you have legal custody. Most parents enjoy joint legal custody of their children, but there are situations when one parent has sole authority, or sole legal custody, of the child because it is more appropriate.
- Physical custody. Providing residential and daily care to your child comes with physical custody. Like legal custody, residential custody can be sole or joint/shared depending on the history and circumstances of the family and the relationship between parents. Keep in mind, however, that joint or shared physical custody does not necessarily mean equal timesharing. A good residential custody arrangement is one that supports the relationship of both parents with the child, but places the best interests of the child above the personal desires of the parents.
Unfortunately, for some families, custody of their children and time-sharing arrangements are the source of ongoing conflict and in those cases, parents often remain in or return to court for years.
Our firm is highly qualified to help you work out both an appropriate child custody plan as well as a parenting-time arrangement — and we are equally adept at assisting you with post-judgment modifications of custody and parenting time when needed.
Madison Child Custody Attorneys Discuss “Primary Residence versus Alternate Residence”
Regardless of whether your child custody arrangement awards one parent “sole physical custody”, or both parents “shared physical custody”, one parent will be referred to as “the parent of primary residence (PPR)”, while the other will be referred to as “the parent of alternate residence (PAR)”. In general, the parent of primary residence will be the parent who is either awarded sole physical custody, or has more than 50% of the parenting time with their children.
The PPR and PAR are important legal distinctions when it comes things like calculating child support , deciding the legal address of a child (which determines their school district), and deference from the courts in terms of decision making power. In general, the parent of primary residence will usually be the parent who receives child support payments, but will also have the responibility of keeping the parent of alternate residence informed about matters affecting their child’s life and overall welfare.
What Are Child Custody Evaluations in Morris County?
When parents cannot agree to a child custody and visitation arrangement, either through negotiation or court ordered mediation sessions, then either a judge, or both parents if they agree to it, may ask for a child custody evaluation to be conducted. Child custody evaluations are usually conducted by a mental health professional (usually a physiologist) specially trained in evaluating family situations, and making recommendations to judges regarding a child custody and parenting time arrangement which they believe are in the best interests of the child.
Parents can choose to use a court-appointed child custody evaluator, or can hire a private child custody evaluator granted both parents agree on who to hire. Keep in mind that a child custody evaluation can be an expensive process, with court-appointed evaluations costing between $1,000 to $2,500, while a private custody evaluation can cost $10,000 or more.
Our attorneys understand exactly how stressful the entire child custody evaluation process can be for parents, so we are prepared to advise you through the entire process and ensure that you understand your rights, responsibilities, and best options throughout the process. For more specific information regarding child custody evaluations, please view our child custody evaluations page.
Contact Our Morristown Parenting Time and Child Custody Attorneys Today
The attorneys of Jacobs Berger have nearly 25 years of combined experience finding effective, constructive, and personal solutions for parents across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in child custody and parenting time decisions of all kinds.
By focusing on finding solutions which protect the stability of your life and the lives of your children, we offer a unique legal service which seeks to build and maintain family foundations without tearing down all that you have already worked to achieve.
To schedule a confidential consultation with our firm today regarding your child custody, parenting time, or child custody evaluation needs and concerns, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 718-7705.