Child Custody Laws in New Jersey

Daughter being lifted into the air by father on beach

Child custody laws often vary a little bit by state. It is important to know the family court laws and standard practices of your state before you find yourself in the courtroom. New Jersey child custody laws are much like any other state, but there may be a couple of things that can influence your case’s outcome.

How can New Jersey child custody laws can affect the outcome of your case?

There are two general types of custody that must be determined in every child custody case; they are physical and legal custody. Physical custody deals with the day-to-day care of the child. The child is a primary resident of the co-parent who has physical custody of the child, who is referred to as the custodial parent. Legal custody has to do with the decision making for the child. This includes decisions regarding religion, education, extracurricular activities, and all other important issues. Typically, New Jersey child custody laws and courts prefer to grant joint legal custody so that co-parents both have a role in deciding how their child is raised. There is more of a controversy between joint physical custody and sole physical custody. New Jersey child custody laws and professionals sometimes view one or the other as being in the best interest of the child. It is totally different in every situation.

What to expect from New Jersey child custody laws

Most of the time New Jersey child custody laws allow co-parent to come to an agreement on their own custody plan to submit to be approved by the court. If you and your co-parent cannot reach an agreement outside of court, the judge will sometimes require that both you and your co-parent submit separate custody plans for the court to review. In all other cases the court will determine custody based on the best interest of the child, which includes the safety, happiness, physical, and mental wellbeing of the child. Some of these factors include but are not limited to the following.

  •  The ability of each co-parent to provide for the child.
  • The relationship of the child with each co-parent.
  • The physical and mental health of each co-parent.
  • The geographical location of each co-parent and how this might affect visitation.
  • The age and the number of children. Also referring to the maturity of the child.
  • The child’s preferences as to which co-parent they would like to live with. This is usually dependent on the age and maturity of the child.

These are only a handful of factors that the New Jersey child custody laws and courts take into account. There are a few additional important factors, which may be less commonly known to most people. If the court observes that one co-parent is more likely to put personal differences with the other co-parent aside and focus on the benefit of the child this co-parent has a definite advantage in court when fighting for custody. A second important factor is whether or not each co-parent is willing to encourage and foster a close relationship between the child and the other co-parent. New Jersey child custody laws may not necessarily recognize these factors but they are extremely important in the eyes of a family court judge.

This information is not to be used as legal advice. For additional aide and legal information please consult with a New Jersey family law professional regarding New Jersey child custody laws. For a list of resources in New Jersey visit our Helpful Links – New Jersey page. The OurFamilyWizard website® is dedicated to providing co-parents with the tools and resources they need to easily manage their custody agreements.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.