Morris Plains Child Custody Lawyers
Providing Comprehensive Legal Services That Help Families
Child custody cases are some of the most emotional family law matters since they impact your entire family’s future. As such, it is important to ensure you receive the legal counsel of a lawyer who puts you and your child’s best interests first. At Lane and Lane, LLC, we pride ourselves on our commitment to our clients. We promise to put your family first.
What Steps Do You Take to Obtain Child Custody in NJ?
Here are the steps to follow to obtain child custody in New Jersey:
Fill out the appropriate forms
You can access these forms on the New Jersey court website, or you can have your lawyer assist you with this process.
Draft a custody complaint
This will include information about you, your co-parent, and your child, as well as the type of custody you are seeking, your parenting plan, and any issues that may arise related to custody or parenting time. This complaint must be filed in the superior court of the county where the child resides (if he/she does not live with you). You will also determine which type of custody you are seeking.
Attend mandatory mediation sessions
You and your co-parent will attempt to come to a custody agreement before going to trial. This does not apply if a restraining order is in place due to allegations of domestic violence.
Undergo an investigation period
If parents cannot resolve their custody issues through mediation, the law allows the court to hold investigations before determining custody. The investigation will review each parent’s character, economic condition, fitness, home life, and criminal record (if applicable).
Attend your custody trial
Each side will present evidence as to why they would like the type of custody arrangement they suggested. The court will make a custody decision based on the best interests of the child factors. Once custody has been awarded, either parent can modify the arrangement if a substantial change in circumstance that affects the child’s welfare happens.
Types of Child Custody
There are two types of custody in New Jersey: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody grants decision-making rights to one or both parents and physical custody determines where the child will reside.
Custody is further divided into sole custody, meaning one parent has custody, and joint custody, meaning both parents share custody.
Is NJ a 50/50 Custody State?
Courts in New Jersey do tend to favor a 50/50 custody arrangement or a joint legal and joint physical custody agreement between both parents, when possible. The court feels it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents.
What Is the Best Interest of the Child Standard?
The court’s custody and child support decisions are based on the best interests of the child. What this means is that the court’s goal is to continue to bring happiness, security, and love to the child’s life in a manner that will help support his/her transition into young adulthood. If the court finds a parent is unfit, and that awarding said parent physical custody of the child could be damaging to the child’s development, the court may refrain from doing so.
Factors in Custody Decisions
When it comes to custody determinations, New Jersey judges must act in the best interests of the child. Before making a final decision or approving a proposed agreement, they consider several factors, including each parent's:
- Parenting ability
- Willingness to accept custody
- Criminal or violent history
- Capacity to provide for the child
- Time spent with the child
- History of disallowing the other parent visitation (excluding cases of abuse)
- Living arrangements
- Work schedules
- Ability to communicate and cooperate with the other parent
Judges also consider the child's safety, needs, age, ability, relationship with each parent and their siblings, and preferences (if they are old enough and mature enough to make this decision).
If you are looking for legal counsel for a child custody case, contact Lane & Lane, LLC online or call us at (908) 259-6673to schedule a consultation.
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“He gave me the facts straight and handled me as well as my dispute excellently.”- Gary R.
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Let us devote our time to your case that can range from divorce, child custody, equitable distribution, domestic violence and more. We are committed to find an end solution that you and your family can walk away from with peace of mind.