New Jersey has two sets of two general models for child custody after divorce. These are not exhaustive definitions. Rather, they are frameworks into which a precise plan could fit.
Each set of custody paradigms pertains to either the child’s residential or legal status. More details follow.
1. Primary residential
Residential custody has to do with where the child lives. When one parent has primary residential custody, it means that the child lives with that parent for over 51% of the year.
2. Shared residential
Shared residential custody is a model that, at least theoretically, has a child residing with both parents equally. In practice, this equality might not always come down to the day. However, each parent would rightfully expect an equal amount of responsibility for the child’s housing from the other parent.
3. Sole legal
Legal custody gives a parent the right to obtain private information and make important decisions on behalf of a child. Having sole legal custody means that only the custodial parent has these rights. The parent without legal custody would need a Parenting Time plan for the time spent with the child.
4. Joint legal
Joint legal custody is a more common outcome of divorce. This is because the court would typically decide that the involvement of both parents is in the best interest of the child. This form of shared rights over information and decisions fosters co-parenting.
Understanding the models is the first step toward creating a future for a family. Both sides typically must consider all possible combinations before moving forward.