When you and your child’s other parent divorce, or when the two of you had a child outside of marriage, you may need to have the state of New Jersey come up with a child custody plan on your behalf. In a child custody case, the state considers the rights and wishes of both parents, and the main goal is to ensure that the child continues to have meaningful and frequent contact with both parents following the separation or divorce.
Per the New Jersey Courts, the state currently recognizes four main types of child custody: Joint legal custody, sole legal custody, primary residential custody and shared residential custody.
Joint legal custody
The most common custody type, joint legal custody means both parents remain active co-parents and participants in the child’s life. In this situation, both parents maintain responsibility for making major decisions relating to the child. Most of the time, one parent acts as the child’s primary residential custodian while the other acts as an alternate.
Sole legal custody
If you have sole legal custody of your child, you maintain full responsibility for making decisions on your child’s behalf.
Primary residential custody
When you or your child’s other parent has primary residential custody, this means the child lives with that party at least 51% of the time. The parent with primary residential custody also makes all major decisions regarding the child.
Shared residential custody
When you and your former partner share residential custody, this means your child lives with each of you for an equal amount of time.
Child custody issues and arrangements are often complex. The more you understand about your options, the better the odds of you landing on an arrangement that serves your family well long into the future.