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Understanding Child Custody and Visitation Laws

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What Does Child Custody Refer To?

Child custody can generally refer to either legal custody or physical custody. Legal custody refers to a parent's or guardian's right to make decisions on behalf of the child regarding his or her health, education, and welfare. Physical (or residential) custody refers to the parent or guardian with whom the child resides.

There are three types of physical custody available in the state of New Jersey:

  • Shared physical custody: The child resides primarily with one parent, but spends on average more than two nights a week at the residence of the other parent. The time spent at the alternate residence in many instances may be nearly equal to the time spent at the primary residence. However, the legal designation of a primary residence of the child can affect many aspects of the child's and the parents' lives, including child support.
  • Sole physical custody: The child resides primarily with one parent, spending on average less than two nights a week at the residence of the other parent. The child may also spend holidays or vacation time at the residence of the non-custodial parent. In most cases, even though one parent may have sole physical custody, both parents share legal custody.
  • Joint physical custody: In cases of true joint custody, the child spends equal time residing with both parents. Joint physical custody is relatively uncommon, as both parents must live close together (this would influence, for instance, the school district in which the child legally resides) and cooperate extremely well.

In New Jersey, the child's wishes are taken into consideration in determining physical and legal custody.

What Is Visitation?

"Visitation" is a legal term that has lost favor in New Jersey courts to the term "parenting time." Parenting time refers to the time that the non-custodial parent spends with his or her child when the other parent has been granted sole physical custody of the child. The courts have adopted the newer term in recognition of the fact that non-custodial parents have far greater responsibilities to their children than simply "visiting" them.

Learn More about Child Custody and Visitation Laws in New Jersey

If you would like to learn more about child custody and visitation laws in New Jersey, please contact the law firm of Winegar, Wilhelm, Glynn & Roemersma today. Our child support attorneys understand how difficult it can be to resolve issues of child custody and visitation for both parents and children alike. Our intimate knowledge of child custody and visitation laws of the state of New Jersey and our extensive experience in protecting the legal rights of people dealing with these delicate issues make us uniquely qualified to handle your case, no matter how seemingly complex your dispute.

If you need legal representation in a child custody matter, we invite you to contact our law firm today. Our lawyers are skilled and thorough and will use all of the resources at their disposal to provide you with the strongest representation available.

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Phillipsburg Office
305 Roseberry Street
Phillipsburg, NJ 08865

Phone: 908-454-3200
Fax: 908-454-3322
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Bethlehem Office
84 East Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018

Phone: 610-807-0440
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Belvidere Office
110 Mansfield Street
Belvidere, NJ 07823

Phone: 908-475-2500
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