When a Judge evaluates a child custody request, the first and foremost concern is what is best for the child. This means that regardless of what is most fair to the parents, the child's physical and emotional well-being must always come first. As a general rule, New Jersey courts presume that it is best for both parents to share the responsibility of raising a child. If a Judge finds that the parents are able to maintain civil contact, they may be approved for a 50/50, or joint physical custody arrangement. Unlike custody arrangements where one parent is given primary physical custody, a 50/50 arrangement allows for an approximate equal split in parenting time.
How 50 / 50 Custody Works In Monmouth County
In order for a 50/50 custody to work, both parents must be flexible and maintain good communication. This type of arrangement takes a great deal of talking about subjects such as the child's health, schooling, and vacation time. It also works best for parents who live within close proximity to each other, since pick-ups and drop offs will be difficult between long distances.
The advantage of a 50/50 custody arrangement is that the child maintains frequent contact with both parents. A parent is also able to spend time with his or child privately, without interference from the former spouse. Parents would need to agree on specific days and times for when each parent would have the child, but these arrangements can be changed over time based on the child's needs. Such an arrangement can be emotionally beneficial for the child, since he or she can remain close to both parents. It may also create less tension and guilt over “loyalty” issues, which can occur when a child lives primarily with one parent. In addition, splitting the responsibilities of child-rearing can help parents as they struggle to start over after divorce. In some cases, a joint physical custody arrangement may even make child support unnecessary, since both parents are expected to provide for the child while he or she is in their care. However, it should not be assumed that a 50/50 custody arrangement automatically negates child support. If one parent earns a higher salary than the other, the court may still order that parent to pay child support, so that the child has the same quality of life in both households.
Despite the benefits, there are also potential negative consequences to a 50/50 arrangement. Although time with both parents is important, a child may feel confused and insecure from not having a “permanent” home. For some children, the mere act of moving from one home to another every few days can be exhausting, especially if they already have a busy schedule. This arrangement can also place mental strain on the child, since both homes are likely to be quite different from each other. It's very important that parents agree on key parenting issues ahead of time, such as methods of discipline, curfews, and types of allowable activities. This prevents a child from becoming confused when he or she is allowed to do certain things with one parent, but not with the other. Of course, some degree of conflict is inevitable as changes occur in the life of the child or the parents. Before attempting a 50/50 custody arrangement, parents should consider whether or not their child has the maturity to deal with, and adjust to frequent changes.
Speak With A NJ Divorce Attorney
If you have questions on what type of custody arrangement will work best for your family, please speak to the experienced family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca. Call 732-965-3404 to speak with one of our attorneys.