When married parents choose to divorce, one of the most contentious issues that they may have before them is how to handle child custody after the divorce. In most cases, both parents believe they are the best fit to meet the needs of their child or children, and that they should be the one granted primary custody.
To help avoid unnecessary stress, it may be best to work with a Toms River child custody lawyer. With so much at stake, consulting a practiced family attorney can help you make sure your children are provided for after the divorce.
Child Custody Laws
Child custody is generally an issue in divorces that involve minor children of the marriage. Determining which parent gets primary custody of the children, and the extent of the parenting time that the non-custodial parent is granted, can be some of the most difficult decisions in the divorce process. Importantly, there are two different types of child custody recognized: physical custody and legal custody.
Legal Custody of a Child
Legal custody refers to the parent or parents that have the power to make important decisions on a child’s behalf. The parent(s) with legal custody can decide where the child will go to school, what religion they will practice, and what kinds of medical care they will receive. Without a strong reason otherwise, a court will often award joint legal custody to both parents, with the thought that children benefit the most from thepresence and input of both parents.
Physical Custody of a Child
Physical custody has to do with where a child will spend their time. While courts still typically award joint physical custody to both parents, there is often more nuance in this decision, and rarely is the parenting time split exactly evenly. Instead, one parent may be the primary custodian of a child, while the other parent has visitation rights, also known as parenting time.
Determining A Child’s Best Interests
In making decisions about legal and physical custody, Ocean Countycourts look to the best interests of the child. Determining what a child’s best interests are, however, is a factually intensive investigation that must consider many aspects of the child’s life. While the court is empowered to look at all of the evidence presented to determine a child’s best interests, judges tend to consider the following:
- The parents’ employment situation
- Prior episodes of domestic violence
- The emotional needs of the child
- The age of the child if they have any special needs
- Location of the child’s school
However, these are far from the only factors that a court will consider. A Toms River child custody lawyer knows this, and can help a parent determine what the best interests for their child are.
Modifying Child Custody Arrangements
A child custody agreement that was laid out in a divorce decree is not necessarily final. A parent’s circumstances may change, and their children are always growing older. Needs change, and a parent’s ability to provide for those needs can change, as well.
If the child custody arrangement in the divorce decree no longer fits the needs of those involved, parents can seek a modification of the court order to make things more manageable. A Toms River child custody attorney can examine the custody agreement to help parents understand what changes they may need to make.
How a Toms River Child Custody Attorney Can Help
Regardless of whether you are in the middle of a divorce, considering a future separation, or trying to regain control of your life post-divorce, a Toms River child custody lawyer can help. They can work with you to help you reach a child custody arrangement that you can live with. Reach out to a child custody attorney in Toms River for the legal help you need to protect your child’s future.
To read the entire text of the relevant statute, click here.