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Child Custody & Visitation

As with all other areas of family law involving children, the New Jersey courts have one overriding principal when making decisions related to the rights of grandparents. That is "The best interests of the child." While there are numerous types of custody, sole legal custody, shared custody, and sole physical custody, in almost all situations, parents are awarded joint custody of children. One parent is the parent of primary residence and the other is the parent of secondary residence or alternate residence. The parent of secondary residence is awarded visitation, sometimes referred to as parenting time.

Given that both parents are equally qualified to parent the children, numerous factors are considered when making child custody decisions. Some of the factors include:

  • Time spent by each parent with the child
  • The school that the child currently attends
  • The current residence of the child
  • Location of the child's friends
  • The preference of the child, if they are old enough
  • Stability of the home environment
  • Employment of the parents

Once an initial custody determination of custody is made, it can be altered by either parent through post-judgment modification. One of the most common reasons for seeking modification of a child custody agreement is one parent moving out of state. Parents need the permission of the court to move a child out of state. Courts will examine the reason for the move and whether parenting time accommodations can be made. Any parental move, whether out of state or across the state, may trigger changes in parenting time, child support, and even spousal support.

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