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Understanding Joint Custody in a Divorce

When pursuing a divorce, child custody is one of the primary factors to consider for parents. Historically, women in the United States have traditionally assumed the role of primary caretaker following a divorce. However, this trend has changed, which has opened up a larger dialogue and debate about the pros and cons of joint custody agreements.

What Are Joint Custody Agreements?

Joint custody agreements allow both parents to have equal responsibilities in the child-raising process.

If you have children and are pursuing a divorce, then their well-being is bound to be one of your primary concerns. One of the most important agreements you and your spouse will have to negotiate is a child custody and parenting time plan that meets the needs of you and your spouse and, above all, is in the best interests of your children. You will want to devise a plan that will allow both parents the opportunity to maintain meaningful relationships with the children.

There are two basic types of child custody: legal custody and residential custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody covers educational, medical, and religious decisions. Unless your spouse is an unfit parent or is physically or mentally unable to make these decisions, you will probably share legal custody of your children. New Jersey family courts believe that in most cases it is best for the child when both parents take part in the decision-making process concerning these important issues.

Residential Custody

Residential custody, often referred to as physical custody, has many variations; they range from sole custody to a 50/50 shared-custody arrangement. In order to make an informed decision, it is important to understand the different types of child custody arrangements. Your divorce and family law attorney will explain the various possibilities and will help you determine which best suits your needs.

Benefits of Joint Custody Agreements

Many studies show that there is a correlation between the amount of time a child spends with a parent and the strength of that child’s relationship with the parent. Overall, these children fare better in socialization and academics than those children who spend limited time with a parent. 

Downsides of Joint Custody Agreements

While there are some clear benefits to joint parenting, there are downsides to consider as well. For example, a child with special needs can often have a difficult time coping with the nuisances associated with transportation between dual residences.

 Joint Custody Agreements & Child Support

Joint custody agreements affect child support as well. Family law courts in New Jersey must base their decisions regarding child support on the concept that all children have the right to both the financial and the emotional support of both parents. It is important to keep in mind that your child is receiving the support, not you or your spouse.

There is a standard set of guidelines that a court must follow to determine the amount of support the non-custodial parent will provide. These are the 3 most important concerns:

  • the income and expenses of each parent,
  • the amount of parenting time each spends with the child, and
  • the basic costs of caring for the child.

If you are pursuing a divorce, custody agreements are one of many considerations that you should evaluate. Divorce is stressful, but the experienced and compassionate Bergen County divorce attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., are dedicated to guiding you through the difficult process with as little anxiety as possible. We will be with you every step of the way to ensure that your rights are protected and your needs met.

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