“There are two sides to every story.” It’s a warning we take seriously in the divorce business, where both partners have their own opinion about who is responsible for the break-up.
It’s also something we tell our clients when it is time to start negotiating a child custody agreement. Under New Jersey law, there are two sides to the child custody story — you will need to make the case that you deserve both physical custody and legal custody of your children.
When most people hear the words “child custody,” what they are thinking about is physical custody. A parent who is awarded physical custody of their child gets to spend time with that child.
At Dalena & Bosch, we help our clients advocate for a physical custody agreement that is in the best interest of the child from our client’s perspective. However, we understand that in most cases both parents love their children and want to have them physically near as much as possible. Some sort of agreement must be struck.
The other side of the child custody story is what is known as legal custody. If you have legal custody of your children you have the legal right to parent them, even when they are not in your physical custody.
Legal custody involves making decisions about your child’s upbringing. Will they go to private school? Are they allowed to sleep over at an extended family member’s home? Do you want your child to get specific religious training, or be exposed to cultural events that will educate them about your shared heritage? These decisions are all tied to legal custody.
Most parents have joint legal custody, but there are circumstances where this is not appropriate.
Negotiating a Custody Agreement
At Dalena & Bosch, we prefer to help couples negotiate a child custody agreement without airing your family’s dirty laundry. Rehashing every questionable parenting decision you and your ex ever made rarely helps resolve your case.
We push for negotiation, but when that doesn’t work we head to court. New Jersey judges apply a best interest of the child test to determine who a child’s primary caregiver should be, and how often other adults in the child’s life should have access to the child or be involved in important child rearing decisions.
Rather than getting into emotionally fraught disputes over who loves who the most, we focus on gathering concrete evidence a judge can use to make a decision that will truly be in your child’s best interest.
Once custody is decided, the courts use a formula to calculate child support obligations.
Holding Your Hand When You Need It Most
If you are contemplating divorce, but are worried about what will happen to your children, we are here to help. Our firm’s motto, “Holding your hand when you need it most,” is something we take seriously. We are ready to take your hand and guide you before, during, and after your divorce. Contact us today if you want to chat.