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Child custody process in New Jersey involves multiple stages

You and your spouse realize that you can no longer stay together, as you cannot reconcile your differences. In light of this, one of the biggest questions lingering in your mind is what will happen to your children.

Navigating the child custody process in New Jersey can understandably be daunting. However, having a comprehensive understanding of this process prior to embarking on it may help you to feel more in control of the situation. Here is what you can expect during the child custody process going forward.

Drafting a custody complaint

Once you and your soon-to-be ex decide to split up, you will need to draft a custody complaint and file this in the superior court located in your child’s county of residence. In your complaint, you will need to outline the kind of custody you are seeking, as well as any substantial issues you have concerning parenting time or custody. In addition, you will need to provide a parenting plan in the complaint.

Types of child custody

You will refer to two kinds of child custody in your New Jersey custody complaint. The first is legal custody, which gives you, your future ex or both of you the right to decide how you will rear your child. For example, what religion will your child practice, and what types of extracurricular activities will you permit him or her to do?

The second kind of custody you must address in your complaint is physical custody. This refers to where your child will live — either with you or with the other parent. Also, in a sole custody situation, just you or the other party will live with the child and be able to make decisions regarding the child. Meanwhile, in a joint custody arrangement, both of you will be able to make decisions concerning the child and have the child live with you part of the time.

The parenting plan

Your parenting plan is a document that outlines what you and your future ex agree to do regarding child custody. It is critical to detail this plan before you submit it for the court’s approval. You can work to create this type of plan during mandatory mediation sessions.

However, if you and the other party cannot agree on how to handle child custody, a judge will have to decide who will receive custody based on several factors, such as your relationships with the child. Either way, an attorney can help you to pursue an outcome that is in your best interests as well as your child’s best interests.