New Jersey, along with all other U.S. states and the District of Columbia, has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which helps prevent interstate child custody conflicts. In general, child custody laws dictate whether parents may seek joint custody, the rules for visitation, and the procedures for ordering custody. According to New Jersey child custody laws, grandparents may legally request visitation rights.
There are two main aspects of custody in New Jersey (and in other states):
- Physical Custody: where the child will spend their time; and
- Legal Custody: which parent(s) is/are responsible for decision-making on behalf of the child.
How Courts Determine Child Custody in New Jersey
New Jersey courts consider a number of factors when determining child custody orders, but primarily consider the best interests of the child. If the parents are seeking joint custody, the court will examine their ability to agree, communicate, and cooperate with regard to the child. Also, any history of domestic violence will figure prominently in any custody or visitation decision. If the non-custodial parent has a history of domestic violence or the court determines a need for precaution, they may be eligible for supervised visitation with their child.
Other factors considered when determining child custody in New Jersey may include (but are not limited to):
- Interaction of the child with its parents and siblings
- Preference of the child (if 12 or older)
- Stability of the home environment
- Fitness of parents
- Parents' employment responsibilities
New Jersey Child Custody Laws at a Glance
Child custody is a difficult and often stressful process for parents; the last thing you want to do is decipher the dense legal language found in most statutes. The following chart highlights the basics of New Jersey's custody laws in a more readable format.
||New Jersey Statutes: Title 9, Section 2-1, et seq.
|Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted
|Visitation ("Parenting Time")
Parents are strongly encouraged to work out their own visitation schedule (subject to court approval) that is reasonable for all parties involved.
Specific parenting time guidelines are not provided by the courts, but common schedules provide for visitation with the non-custodial parent every other weekend plus one night of the week.
|Types of Custody Available
Courts generally start with the assumption that children are more likely to thrive and have a healthy childhood when they're able to spend time with both parents (unless there's proof otherwise, such as a record of domestic violence or substance abuse). The types of custody considered by New Jersey courts include:
- Joint Custody: Child lives with one parent or alternates between parents, and parents work together when determining medical and educational decisions;
- Sole Custody: Child lives with one parent and receives appropriate time with non-custodial parent; or
- Any other custody arrangement the court finds to be in the best interests of the child.
|Grandparent Visitation Rights
||Grandparents (and other non-parents who are close to the child) may ask the court for an order of visitation with their grandchildren (called "grandparenting time"), even if the parent(s) object, as long as such visitation is in the child's best interests.
|Child's Own Wishes Considered?
||Yes (as long as the court deems the child old enough or mature enough to make such an important decision)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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New Jersey Child Custody Laws: Related Resources
Get Professional Legal Help With Your New Jersey Custody Case
Child custody is a very serious matter. Sometimes parents are able to work out an amicable agreement that puts the child's needs first, but divorce proceedings often involve conflict and can benefit from a legal professional. Find an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney near you today to learn more.