As you prepare to file for custody of your New Jersey child, it is important for you to understand the terms used for the types of custody you will be seeking. Each family’s situation is different, and custody is awarded based on their needs and the child’s best interests.
Two types of custody: legal and physical
When a parent files for custody, they are filing for two types. One is legal custody, which provides the parent with the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, for example, how and where they will be educated, what religion they will follow and what medical care and services they will receive. The other type is physical custody, which provides the parent with the right to have the child live with them.
The difference between sole and joint custody
For both types of custody, courts award either sole or joint custody. Sole legal custody means that only one parent is awarded the right to make the major legal decisions regarding their child’s life. Sole physical custody means that the child will live with one parent, with the other parent having limited or no visitation rights. Joint legal custody establishes that both parents will work together to make the decisions regarding their child’s life. Joint physical custody establishes that the child will divide their time living between parents. This division can be a 50-50 split or another configuration that works for the family.
Factors involved in awarding custody
There are several factors considered regarding child custody. These include:
- Age, mental and physical health and abilities of the parents
- Age, needs and preferences of the child
- Relationship between the parents and the child
- The impact custody decisions will have on the child’s stability
Parents can be awarded joint custody for both types. They can also be awarded joint legal custody and then sole physical custody to one parent or sole custody for both types.