Child Custody and Parenting Time

Child Custody and Parenting Time

The preference under New Jersey law is for joint legal custody, as both parents are deemed to be fit parents and to have equal rights to custody, unless proven otherwise. However, the law allows for deviation from this standard in appropriate cases. In the usual case, any disputes are over which party is named the Parent of Primary Residence and the other the Parent of Alternate Residence. This is driven by the parenting time schedule, which not infrequently is disputed. It has long been our belief, based on years of practice, that a Court custody fight is one of the most emotionally wrenching experiences one can have – not to mention one of the most hideously expensive financially as well. It also can be devastating to the children, since they and their parents must be evaluated by forensic mental health professionals who render reports with recommendations. We believe that these issues are best handled in mediation, and in fact, mandatory custody and parenting time mediation is built into the New Jersey Family Court system for cases where those issues are not resolved by a certain stage of the proceedings. It is conducted by court staff and volunteer attorneys, so there is no charge. The collaborative process also is uniquely suited to resolution of these issues, as a Child Specialist (a mental health professional) can be part of the team. This person is not on the team to be a therapist, but to be a voice for the children, independent of both parents. Having noted all of this, we are experienced in this area of litigation, and take on Court cases where custody and parenting time are highly disputed.