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Even though the court will always try to act in the best interest of the child in a custody settlement, it is still an emotional time for all parties involved. Find out what factors courts in the state of New Jersey go off of to determine child custody arrangements and how a skilled Bergen County child custody attorney at McNerney & McAuliffe can help you reach the best possible outcome.

What is the difference between physical child custody and legal custody?

Physical custody refers to which parent the child will live with for the majority of the time. Although this can be split equally between parents, typically one parent spends more time with the child and is responsible for providing a stable, environment, food, clothes, and other necessities. If this is the case, this parent may receive child support from the non-custodial parent.

Legal custody, on the other hand, is usually and easily granted to both parents equally. This form of custody allows a parent to make important life decisions on behalf of the child, such as education, religion, and medical care.

Why do New Jersey courts prefer joint custody over sole custody?

New Jersey courts usually try to grant joint custody because they believe that having a relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the child. However, they will revert to sole custody if they find one parent to be unfit to care for the child. Examples of being deemed as unfit are having a history of domestic violence, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, incarceration, or institutionalization.

What factors determine if I get custody of my child?

Besides looking back at the parents’ histories, New Jersey courts will examine the following factors when determining what type of custody is in the child’s best interest:

  • Each parent’s willingness to accept custody.
  • The physical and mental ability of each parent to act as a guardian.
  • The relationship between the child and each parent.
  • The needs of the child.
  • The stability of a home life that each parent can provide.
  • The preference of the child, if of sufficient age.

If you believe you have proof of any other factors that the court might deem relevant, contact a seasoned Bergen County family law attorney today.


Here at McNerney & McAuliffe, we understand how confusing certain legal matters can be, which is why we are here to provide clients from all walks of life with the experienced, compassionate legal guidance they need. If you require the legal assistance of an attorney to help you through a criminal law matter, personal injury matter, family law matter, or otherwise, you can turn to us. Contact McNerney & McAuliffe today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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