The Child Custody Process in New Jersey

What to Expect When You Need the Court to Determine Custody

The Child Custody Process in New Jersey imageOne of the most difficult and emotional components of a divorce proceeding, when there are minor children in the home, is the determination of custody and parenting time. It’s permissible and preferred that the parents come to an agreement that works for them and is in the best interests of the children, but that’s often not possible. When you cannot agree on a custody and parenting time arrangements, you must turn to the court for a ruling. Here’s what you can expect in the child custody trial process.

How Long Will the Process Take?

In most instances, a child custody dispute can be resolved in anywhere from three to nine months, depending on the court’s docket and the complexity of the issues involved. 

How Do You Initiate a Custody Trial?

To begin judicial proceedings regarding custody and parenting time, one of the parents must file a complaint, stating the type of custody sought. Typically, the complaint must also include a parenting plan and should address any serious potential concerns regarding custody or parenting time, such as:

  • Traveling out of state with minor children
  • Potential work conflicts with custody
  • Any concerns about the safety of minor children with a parent

Can You Mediate Your Custody Dispute?

Yes. Custody mediation is available to parents in New Jersey. The courts may mandate mediation or the parties can voluntarily mediate a disagreement. The court will typically not permit mediation, though, if there are allegations of domestic violence.

What Happens at Trial?

If you don’t settle your dispute before trial, you will each have the opportunity to present evidence to the court. The judge will consider all evidence and arguments based on what he or she perceives to be the “best interests of the child.” Some factors the court will assess when making that determination are:

  • Each parent’s work responsibilities
  • The demonstrated ability of each parent to agree, cooperate and communicate regarding matters related to the child
  • The geographical distance between the parents’ homes
  • The child’s educational needs
  • The nature and quality of each parent’s time and relationship with the child
  • Any history of domestic abuse or violence

After hearing all evidence, the judge will issue a ruling and enter a written order.

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

After much reflection, I have decided to retire from the practice of law, after 43 years, and to close my office, effective 12/31/23.

There are a number of reasons, including substantial health concerns in my family (not me), I am needed elsewhere.

It is also my age. I turn 69 shortly.

It is just time.

I therefore cannot accept any new cases, as I do not want to start a matter I probably cannot finish.

I have spoken with several experienced family law attorneys who I respect, who are willing to accept referrals from me. If you want names, please let me know.

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