As long as both parents are fit to care for their child, New Jersey courts handling divorces and separations typically favor joint or shared custody arrangements. When many people hear the term ‘joint custody,’ they assume that each parent will have physical custody of the child for exactly 50 percent of the year.
While 50/50 shared custody is preferred, it is not always practical. A 50/50 arrangement is best suited for situations where:
- Parents live nearby each other.
- Parents can effectively communicate and work together for the child’s benefit.
- The child is not struggling due to regularly going back and forth between their parents’ homes.
- The parents agree to the 50/50 schedule.
Parents sometimes live hundreds of miles apart, making it unrealistic for the child to continuously switch from one parent’s home to the other’s, particularly during the school year. The court will always put the best interests of the child first when making custody decisions during divorce proceedings. A 50/50 physical custody arrangement may deprive the child of the stability they need for their physical and emotional development.
What other joint custody arrangements are possible?
Rather than award 50/50 physical custody, courts may consider other arrangements that give both parents ample time with their child. One possible arrangement would require one parent to have primary custody of the child for a majority of the time, but the child’s other parent would care for the child Friday through Monday every other week. Another option would be for the child to spend the school year with one parent and school breaks with the other parent.
To find the best possible joint custody arrangement for your family, consider meeting with an attorney familiar with New Jersey divorce law.