Child with paper dolls


Child custody can be a difficult subject to broach when negotiating the terms of a divorce. However, it is a necessary and vital conversation, and the question must be answered. The co-parents and the court will have to come to an agreement on each detail of the arrangement. Among the topics they will need to settle is precisely how present each co-parent will be in the life of the child (or children). There are a few different types of child custody under the state of New Jersey child custody laws. Each type will be explained in detail here.

Sole and Joint Custody

Two of the different types of child custody regard the extent of each parent’s continued presence in the life of the child. Statutes 9:2-4, the New Jersey child custody statute, lists the options available for this arrangement.

types of child custody

One of them is sole custody, in which the child lives with only one parent. Statutes 9:2-4 specifies that the arrangement may still include “appropriate parenting time for the noncustodial parent.” That way, the other parent, through visitation privileges, may still be able to spend time with their child. They may also have to pay alimony, or child support, to help make sure that the child is provided with what they need. The court will determine how much child support will be paid, and for how long. Their judgment will be based on a range of factors regarding the noncustodial parent’s ability to pay.

The other type is joint custody, in which both parents, even after their separation from each other, are directly involved in raising their child. This could mean that both parents take turns housing the child, but other arrangements are certainly possible. Although this concept may seem to preclude the need for alimony, joint custody child support does exist. Under New Jersey law, a parent pays less child support if the child spends more nights at their home. The other parent then has to pay more in child support.

Physical and Legal Custody

Something that must also be discussed is how the nature of each co-parent’s relationship with their child will be. There are also two types for this category, with key distinctions between them.

types of child custody

Physical custody is what many people picture when they think of custody. When they grant a parent physical custody, the child lives with them in their home. Under sole physical custody, the child may reside with only one of their parents. Under joint physical custody, they may take turns staying in each parent’s house on certain days or for certain periods of time. According to Statutes 9:2-4, the arrangements may vary “in accordance with the needs of the parents and the child.”

Legal custody is the ability to “mak[e] major decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and general welfare.” If only one parent has sole legal custody, they alone can make these choices, without regard for the views and feeling of the other. If a court grants both parents joint legal custody, they may consult with each other and make decisions together.

Contact a Family Law Attorney For Help With the Different Types of Child Custody

Statutes 9:2-4 also lists another option altogether for how to settle this matter. Besides the types of child support mentioned above, the result may be “any other custody agreement as the court may determine to be in the best interests of the child”. This means the parents or the court may combine several types of child custody to varying degrees. For example, one parent may have sole physical custody of the child; but the other retains shared legal custody and can still make decisions about their upbringing.

In the end, the best interest of the child is the most important factor in deciding how involved each parent will be in their life moving forward. The child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of James C. DeZao, P.A. understand this. We do our best to offer legal assistance and professional advice drawn from years of experience in helping parents determine the best arrangement for child custody. Contact us today for a free consultation with a child custody attorney at (973) 358-6134.