Child Custody Intentionally & Exclusively Focused on Family Law

Bergen County Child Custody Lawyer

Representing Parents and Children in NJ Custody Cases

When you are going through a divorce, we know that few things matter more to you than your children's future. Our Bergen County child custody lawyers are prepared to walk you through every aspect of child custody in a clear and compassionate manner.

Our team-based approach ensures you’ll have a team of attorneys actively working on your case to provide high-quality service with a personalized touch.

Well-Respected Family Lawyers Handling Your Child Custody Case

  • Free Case Consultations
  • Backed By 60+ Years Of Collective Experience
  • Evening Appointments Available
  • Client-Focused Service
  • Highly Respected Divorce Firm
  • Effective & Personalized Representation

Types of Custody Plans in New Jersey

The two main types of custody in NJ are:

1. Physical or Residential Custody

  • This refers to the parent the child lives with (the Parent of Primary Residence versus a Parent of Alternative Residence).

2. Legal Custody

  • This refers to the parent(s) responsible for making all major decisions affecting the child including those related to health, education, safety, and overall welfare. You will have the opportunity to come up with a custody plan with your spouse first.

The following options exist in relation to custody:

  • Sole Custody – One parent makes decisions for the child without the other parent.
  • Joint Legal Custody – Both parents have a say in and can participate in the decision-making process.
  • Parent of Primary Residence – Residence where the child primarily resides and spends the most time.
  • Parent of Alternative Residence – Residence where the child spends parenting time based upon a schedule.
  • True Shared Parenting Agreement – Both parents have rights to parenting time with their child.

How do the NJ Family Courts Determine Child Custody?

If the two parties cannot agree upon an arrangement, the court will be called upon to intervene usually with the benefit of a forensic custody evaluation prepared by a mental health expert.

Child custody is awarded based on the following factors:

  • Needs of the child
  • Fitness of the parents
  • History of domestic violence
  • Parents' employment responsibilities
  • Stability of the home environment offered
  • Quality and continuity of the child's education
  • Geographical proximity of the parents' homes
  • Interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings
  • Parents' ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child
  • Safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent
  • Extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation
  • Preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision
  • Parents' willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse
In an extremely contested child custody case, it is not uncommon for the parties to call upon the skills of a trusted family attorney. At Sherwood, Johnson & Poles, our Bergen County child custody attorneys are compassionate to the needs of our clients, and we work to help reach amicable and fair resolutions for the entire family.

Other Factors Considered

Judges may take into account the ages and number of children, the location of the child's school, each parent's job situation, and the distance between the parents' homes. A court may deem that a parent is unfit if a history of child abuse, drug addiction, or even domestic violence exists. Usually, in these situations a parent will have restricted or supervised visitation for a period of time. In extreme cases, the court can terminate the parental rights.

How To Modify Child Custody Agreements

It is not uncommon for a custody plan to be modified well after the initial arrangement has been finalized. Whenever a change in circumstance occurs, a modification may be necessary. For example, a custody plan will have to be revisited if one spouse is planning to move outside of the state of New Jersey.

Helpful Tips for Your Child Custody Case

  • Consult a child custody attorney near you: Your child custody attorney is your best asset and can help you strategize to ensure you are able to get through this as smoothly as possible.
  • Consider settling out of court: In many cases, spouses are able to hash out an agreement with the help of their attorneys and an unbiased mediator. Your attorney might suggest this option to keep you out of court. Not only does it save you time and money, but it helps you work on your relationship as co-parents.
  • Be aware of your behavior: When in the middle of a custody dispute, it is important that you keep your temper in check. This is not always easy when you have a lot of unresolved anger and resentment, but it is imperative that you are on your best behavior. Do not send angry texts and emails to your spouse and absolutely do not argue with him or her in front of your children.
  • Never alienate your children from your ex: Your marriage might be over, but your former spouse will always be a parent to your children, so never alienate them from one another. Not only is this harmful to your kids, but it will do you no favors in court.
  • Remain engaged in your kids’ lives: Regardless of what is going on in your life, it is crucial to show that you are able to remain engaged with your children and attend all of their important events, whether related to their academic life or their health. It helps your case in court and strengthens your bond with them, making it a win-win.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer Near You

To learn more about custody and to discuss which plans might work best for you, do not hesitate to speak with a member of our legal team today. Contact our child custody lawyers in Bergen County, New Jersey.

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