In most custody cases, both parents agree on a parenting plan that addresses the needs of the children. If there are differences, the parents usually participate in mediation to work out a resolution that will meet their own needs as well as the child’s.
Custody disputes are some of the most stressful and difficult family law matters to resolve. But with some effort and good planning, you can avoid a lengthy custody battle.
In court, physical custody disputes are resolved in a variety of ways. Typically, a judge will determine which parent receives primary physical custody of the child and will make arrangements for visitation between both parents.
Shared: In shared custody cases, the parents generally split parenting time equally, with each parent receiving a significant period of physical custody each week or month. Often, these arrangements are made in order to preserve the relationship between the parents and their children.
Sole: In rare situations, a court may grant sole physical custody to one parent. This is usually reserved for a parent who was the child’s primary caregiver before the divorce.
In the vast majority of states, courts have a general presumption favoring shared physical custody. This is because the judge is looking for evidence that the parents are able to work together and will share custody in a manner that serves their children’s best interests. However, a parent who is unfit to co-parent can overcome the presumption with proof of specific issues such as domestic violence or the child’s special needs.
Parents often dispute the best way to allocate custody of their children. Some couples can resolve their disputes through mediation, but if the problem is serious enough to warrant court action, it is a good idea to hire an attorney who specializes in custody law.
Legal custody involves major decisions regarding a child’s life and long-term interests. These include education, tutoring, cultural and religious education, extracurricular activities, medical care, and other issues that affect a child’s wellbeing.
If you want to win legal custody, you must show that you’re the better parent and can make sound decisions about a child’s welfare. You must also provide the courts with detailed documentation of any incidents that have occurred that may have led to a custody dispute.
For example, you may be able to persuade the judge that you’re better situated to provide a stable physical environment for your children if you have a bigger home, better employment opportunities, or have more flexible work schedules than the other parent.
When there is a custody dispute, one parent may request that the court order supervised visits. Supervised visits are a short-term measure to help ensure that the child stays safe.
The courts will only grant supervised visitation when there is a valid reason to believe that the children may be in danger of harm from visiting with the other parent alone. This can include concerns over alcohol abuse, drug use or mental health issues.
The courts can also order a forensic investigation by a psychiatric professional. This will involve interviews and possibly personality tests of the parents, children and other parties to determine what is in the best interest of the child.
The parties to a child custody dispute can choose to go to court or opt for alternative dispute resolution methods, including arbitration. Arbitration can be a good option for many parents because it often costs less than litigation and takes much less time from start to finish.
However, before agreeing to arbitrate your dispute, it is important to understand how arbitration works. In particular, be aware that New Jersey and many other states require that parties to arbitration agree voluntarily and in writing to waive their rights to judicial review.
During the arbitration process, a judge or other neutral person will hear the evidence and make a decision. These decisions are generally binding. But they may be reviewed or overturned in some circumstances, such as fraud or collusion on the part of the arbitrator.