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Child support & custody

Each child is entitled to financial support if their parents are separated.

Each child is entitled to support if their parents are separated.

Are you overwhelmed by the stresses of a child custody battle in New Jersey? Do you find yourself struggling to understand the legal jargon and proceedings? We get it. We understand that these battles are more than just legal disputes — about your family, your children, and your future. Our team of child custody attorneys in NJ is here to help you navigate this complex legal terrain with clarity, compassion, and advocacy. We offer understanding and education every step of the way because we believe empowered clients make the right decisions for their families. Partner with Keith Family Law and let us lead your case.

Every child is entitled to connection, protection, and emotional support from their parents.

In a court of law, the well-being of children is put before anything else, especially during a divorce. All parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially, as child support is a guaranteed right. That said, figuring out child support can be far from easy. How is it calculated? Who pays it? And for how long? At Keith Family Law, we can help you answer these questions and more.

Types of Child Custody in NJ

In New Jersey, child custody is divided into two types: physical and legal custody. Physical custody pertains to where the child will live, while legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make major decisions about the child’s welfare, education, health care, and other important matters. Each type can be either joint (shared by both parents) or sole (given to one parent only).

Joint custody is often the preferred arrangement in NJ as it promotes both parents’ active involvement in their child’s life. However, the court will always prioritize the child’s best interests over any parental preference.

Factors to Keep in Mind About NJ Child Custody Cases

Child custody cases in NJ are complex and multifaceted. The courts take several factors into account when making custody decisions. These include the child’s needs, the parents’ ability to agree and communicate on matters related to the child, the stability of each parent’s home environment, the fitness of each parent, and the quality and continuity of the child’s education.

Of paramount importance is the child’s safety, happiness, physical, mental, and emotional needs. The court will also consider the child’s preference, provided the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason. It is important to keep these factors in mind, and legal teams will look to present evidence that supports your child custody case in NJ.

A Family in Turmoil: Andrew, Victoria, and Their Three Children Address Child Custody in New Jersey Divorce

Andrew and Victoria, once a happy couple, live in New Jersey with their three kids.  They find themselves facing a tough situation when Andrew’s long-standing affair with his assistant, Pamela, comes to light. This betrayal rocks their marriage and leads to a bitter divorce, at Victoria’s request.  Andrew moves out into a new apartment, and starts talking about having Pamela move in with him.

Their children — Connor (16), Thomas (14), and Joseph (11) — are caught in the middle. Connor, the oldest at 16, aligns with his father and blames his mom, Victoria, for forcing the divorce.  Conner states that he wants to live with his dad, Andrew, putting a strain on the family.

Currently, the children live with Victoria in the marital home, in the same district where they go to school and where Victoria works as a teacher. Andrew works in Manhattan three days a week and works from home the rest of the week.

But the tension between Andrew and Victoria is high, with accusations flying back and forth.  Victoria has started to badmouth Andrew to all three children, trying to get them to be loyal to her in the divorce.  Andrew believes the children would be better with him as the primary custodial parent, because even though he works in Manhattan much of the time, he is more focused on providing a supportive environment for the children than disparaging their mother to get the children’s loyalty.  Connor’s strong wish to live with Andrew adds more complexity.  Victoria accuses Andrew of wanting to take the boys to punish her and to avoid paying child support.  Andew vehemently denies all of Victoria’s allegations. 

Andrew and Victoria cannot agree, and tensions are escalating.  They hire experienced divorce attorneys to guide them, hoping they can be amicable about custody but knowing they may need to go to court to resolve their custody issues.  If they do, their attorneys will fight to convince the court of Andrew and Victoria’s positions.  The court, however, will figure out what’s best for the children while dealing with the parents’ fighting.

Under New Jersey custody law, the court will prioritize Connor’s, Thomas’, and Joseph’s best interests above all else. This means the court must evaluate various factors, including:

  • Children’s Best Interests: The court must prioritize the children’s welfare and ascertain the custodial arrangement that promotes their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
  • Allegations of Misconduct by Either Parent: The court will assess Andrew’s and Victoria’s ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment for the children.  Any accusations of parental misconduct stemming from the divorce, such as Victoria’s alleged disparaging remarks and attempts to alienate the children from Andrew, will be carefully examined by the court.  If the allegations warrant, the court may order a custody evaluation to aid in its custody determination.
  • Parental Cooperation: The court encourages parents to work together for the well-being of their children. Andrew and Victoria must demonstrate their willingness to communicate and cooperate in co-parenting, despite their differences.
  • Child Preferences: Andrew’s attorney will want the court to take into account the older child Connor’s desire to live with Andrew.  While Connor’s wishes will not be the determining factor, the judge will consider Connor’s input which may also cause a deeper inquiry into the surrounding family dynamics.

Andrew and Victoria are hoping to find a way forward for themselves and their children. With the help of their experienced custody attorneys, they will prepare for a trial with custody experts and their attorneys always be ready to settle their case amicably if they can. 

NJ Takes Any Child Custody Breaches or Conflicts Seriously

New Jersey is strict when it comes to child custody arrangements. Any breach, such as non-compliance with visitation schedules or attempts to alienate the child from the other parent, is taken seriously. In severe cases, it can lead to changes in custody, fines, or even jail time for the offending parent. Conflicts include:

  • Failure to adhere to the set visitation or parenting time schedules.
  • One parent moves without proper notice or court approval, disrupting the child’s routine and access to the other parent.
  • Substance abuse issues that may put the child’s safety at risk.
  • Neglect or failure to meet the child’s basic needs when they are in one parent’s care.
  • Interference with the other parent’s relationship with the child, such as alienating behaviors or withholding communication.
  • Violation of specific terms laid out in the custody order, such as schooling decisions or healthcare provisions.
  • Acts of domestic violence or child abuse.
  • Disrespect or contempt towards the court or judge overseeing the case.

 

If conflicts arise, the courts encourage parents to resolve them amicably. However, if this isn’t possible, the court may intervene and make decisions based on the child’s best interest.

Why Child Custody Attorneys in NJ Are So Important

A child custody case can be stressful and confusing without legal guidance. An experienced child custody attorney in NJ can help you understand your rights, obligations, and the legal processes involved. They can provide the support you need to effectively present your case and ensure your child’s best interests are upheld.

That’s where Keith Family Law comes in. We’ll partner with you and be the child custody attorney who can assist you in negotiating fair and reasonable custody agreements, represent you in court if necessary, and help you handle any conflicts or breaches that may arise.

Let Keith Family Law Lead the Way in Your NJ Child Custody Case

Keith Family Law is committed to guiding you through your child custody case with empathy, expertise, and steadfast advocacy. With our team by your side, you can navigate this challenging period with confidence. Let us lead the way in your NJ child custody case. We support residents in the following areas:

  • Union County
  • Essex County
  • Middlesex County
  • Warren County
  • Hunterdon County
  • Morris County
  • Hudson County
  • Bergen County
  • Monmouth County

Every end is a new beginning

Contact our family law attorneys today to schedule your initial consultation or explore how we can help people just like you in specific family law areas: