One of the most challenging things about separating from a partner or divorcing your spouse is fighting for custody of the child you had together. As a parent, you would want your child with you always. However, New Jersey considers the rights of both parents in any custody case, meaning the state leans toward a 50/50 joint custody arrangement.
What is a 50/50 joint custody arrangement?
Custody can be legal or physical. Legal custody is the right of a parent to make major decisions for a child. Physical custody, or what New Jersey refers to as residential custody, implies where the child resides.
Because New Jersey considers the parents on equal footing and encourages an equivalent sharing of parental responsibilities, the court will most likely award joint physical and legal custody. The parents share the decision-making authority regarding their children and the parents split the time the child spends with them equally according to an alternating schedule. However, the court may award a parent sole custody if one parent is unfit to take on their parental duties.
How does the court determine an unfit parent?
The court will always prioritize the best interests of the child. Therefore, a parent may receive sole custody if the other parent has a history of:
- Mental illness
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Domestic violence
- Failing to show interest in the child’s well-being
- Failing to fulfill parental obligations
Your child has a right to grow up in a healthy and safe environment, and that begins with the people who are taking care of them. If you believe the other parent cannot provide adequate conditions for child-rearing, you can pursue sole custody and ask for child support from the other parent.