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New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer

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Divorce cases often become contentious when issues come up around child custody. Disputes over where the children will live, relocation, if they’ll see each parent, or who will pay for their needs can create animosity between the couple whether married or not.

Your goal should be to avoid difficult court proceedings, protect your parental rights, and shield your children from as much trauma as possible.

Talk to a New Jersey child custody lawyer by calling 856-499-435 (toll-free 877-938-1963) or emailing us today.

Hire a NJ Child Custody Law Firm To Resolve Child Custody Disputes

Fighting for child custody, contact, or visitation can be excruciatingly painful for everyone involved. New Jersey law puts the child’s interests first and considers the full family picture when deciding on child custody, support, and alimony. 

To protect yourself and your relationship with your children, you want to work with a New Jersey child custody attorney who focuses on family law and works tirelessly to advocate for your parental rights.

Learn How Graziano & Flynn Can Help With Child Custody

At Graziano & Flynn P.C., we’ve helped thousands of families navigate child custody arrangements and negotiations, keeping your children’s well-being at the forefront of our processes. 

With over 100+ years of experience, our attorneys will explain your options and walk you through what to expect to reach the healthiest outcomes for you, your children, and the future of your relationship. Whether you’re pursuing mediation or a heated court battle, we’ll be there for you every step of the way.

How Do New Jersey Courts Decide Custody?

If parents cannot agree on child custody, the New Jersey courts will decide for them. A judge reviews each parent’s custody suggestions and plans for visitation, assessing evidence and hearing testimony from both sides.

Before deciding custody, the Court will order mediation to identify and work through custody-related issues. If mediation fails and the couple cannot come to an agreement, the case will go to trial for a full-blown custody hearing. A judge may order a custody neutral assessment (CNA) by a psychologist or social worker before trial, or you may choose to hire a private custody evaluator to bolster your case.

The court then thoroughly investigates both parents’ circumstances to determine if there’s evidence a child may be in danger when in their care. A record of abuse or harassment can significantly reduce your ability to retain parental rights. 

In the Best Interest of the Child

New Jersey courts act in the best interest of the child regarding custody. The court evaluates each parent to determine the healthiest arrangement that prioritizes the children’s overall well-being. 

A judge often considers the following factors when determining the best interests of the child:

  • Parents’ ability to meet the child’s needs
  • Relationship between parents and child
  • Need for continuing stability 
  • Child’s preferences

If a judge deems a parent unfit to care for a child, that parent may face restrictions or lose custody altogether. 

What are New Jersey Custody Laws?

New Jersey law considers both parents equally when determining legal and physical custody agreements. Legal custody refers to the right of the parent to make major decisions regarding the child’s well-being. Physical custody outlines whom the child lives with on a regular basis. If the parents cannot agree, a judge will identify the best custody arrangement for the child. 

Sole Custody

Sole custody is awarded to one parent, and is rare. If a parent has sole legal custody, they’ll be able to make decisions about the well-being of their child without the other parent’s input. If awarded sole physical custody, the child will live with that one parent. There may be serious circumstances where you need to prove that the other parent is unfit or abusive in order to get sole custody.

Joint Custody

Joint legal custody means both parents can make decisions for the child about their well-being, education, and health. Joint physical custody means the child lives with each parent for a period of time according to a mutually agreed upon schedule, usually with one parent as the Parent of Primary Residence and the other as the Parent of Alternate Residence. Joint custody is often ideal if both parents are deemed fit to care for the child.

Is New Jersey a 50/50 State?

New Jersey courts tend to favor 50/50 custody. It’s important for the child to have a solid relationship with both parents and the New Jersey law serves the best interests of the child’s overall well-being. However there are many circumstances where 50/50 custody is not in the child’s best interest and in those cases, you need an experienced custody lawyer to prove that one parent should have more time than the other.

Can Child Custody Orders Be Modified in New Jersey? 

Sometimes, as children grow and relationships evolve, there may be a need to change the child custody agreement. Custody orders can be modified in New Jersey by submitting a consent order or filing a motion. 

Legal Modification Process

If both parents agree on the changes that need to be made to the custody agreement, they can submit a consent order for the court to evaluate. If the judge approves, they’ll file the consent order to authorize the requested changes to the custody agreement.

In cases where the parents cannot agree on changes to the existing order, they can file a motion. Filing a motion requires proving circumstances have changed substantially enough to require a shift in the custody agreement.

Factors to Determine Custody Order Modification

A court often considers the following factors when evaluating modifications to a custody order:

  • Child’s needs and safety
  • Parents’ ability to communicate
  • Stability of the child’s life at home
  • Parents’ employment status
  • Child’s relationship with siblings
  • Current custody order
  • Child’s education
  • Child’s preferences

Additionally, a judge may consider a change in circumstances if the parents cannot agree on a custody modification and file a motion.

What Are Changes in Circumstances?

To successfully file a motion to modify custody orders, the parent must prove a substantial change in circumstances that justify the shift in the custody arrangement. A significant shift might look like:

  • One or both parents decide to move 
  • Child attends a new school or has a change in education
  • Evidence of domestic violence or abuse
  • Change in parental employment
  • Evidence of alcohol or drug misuse
  • Child’s needs change

The court always prioritizes the interests of the child to create the healthiest home environment and relationship with the parents.

What if I Want to Move Out of State?

A parent cannot move from the state of NJ and maintain custody without permission from the other parent or the Court. If agreement cannot be obtained, the parent seeking to move must file a relocation application and provide specific evidence to show that the move is in the child’s best interest.

Child Custody Mediation

Child custody mediation can be done privately, where both parents choose a mediator to help them work through any outstanding custody issues to reach an agreement. A court can also order mediation with a court-appointed mediator to help arrange physical and legal custody and resolve any disputes.

Ideally, mediation helps parents and families avoid the hostility that can come from the litigation process, which can take more time, cost more money, and take an emotional toll on both parents and children.

Child Custody Litigation

When mediation isn’t successful and parents cannot agree on how to best meet the needs of their child, litigation will take place and a child custody hearing will occur. A judge evaluates the relevant facts, hears testimony from each parent, and reviews any proposed parenting plans. 

If you’re entering a custody battle, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney who understands the complexities that come with litigation. Child custody battles can take time, dragging on for months or even years, so you want to ensure you have an informed advocate who fights for your parental rights and the best interests of your child.

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Contact a New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer

Navigating child custody cases can be overwhelming, even for the most amicable parents. Whether you’re pursuing mediation or litigation, meeting your child’s needs should be the center of the process. 

Contact Graziano & Flynn today to speak with an experienced New Jersey child custody lawyer. We’ll have your back and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible custody arrangement for you and your child.

Call 856-499-4351 (toll-free 877-938-1963) or send us an email to set up an initial consultation with one of our New Jersey child custody lawyers.

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