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Legal Information: New Jersey


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Laws current as of January 8, 2024

What custody options are there?

New Jersey’s public policy is that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents.1 Based on the best interest of the child, a judge can order any of the following:

  • joint legal custody, which is when both parents will make major decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and general welfare.2 This can be ordered even if only one parent has physical custody. Joint legal custody usually involves the parents talking with each other and making decisions jointly. Since cases of domestic violence involve control, fear, and an imbalance of power, joint custody usually is not a good option;
  • joint physical custody, which is when the child lives with each parent for a period of time but it doesn’t necessarily mean that each parent has equal time;3
  • sole legal custody, which is when only one parent is able to make major decisions for the child;
  • sole physical custody, which is when the child primarily lives with one parent. The other parent will likely still have scheduled parenting time;4 or
  • any other custody arrangement the judge believes is in the best interest of the child.5

1 N.J. Stat. § 9:2-4
2 N.J. Stat. § 9:2-4(a)(2)
3 N.J. Stat. § 9:2-4(a)(1)
4 N.J. Stat. § 9:2-4(b)
5 N.J. Stat. § 9:2-4(c)