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The difference between visitation and custody in New Jersey

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2021 | Child Custody

There are different types of visitation and custody arrangements that parents need to know when they divorce. New Jersey law makes a distinction between legal custody and physical custody and often favors ruling for joint custody instead of sole custody. Judges in New Jersey also prioritize what’s best for the children when making decisions on child custody and visitation.

Legal custody

The parent who has legal custody has the legal right to make decisions for their child, such as where they go to school, whether they go to church and which doctor they go to. Under joint legal custody, both parents have a say on these important decisions. If one parent has sole legal custody, then only they make the decisions.

You can seek the services of a family lawyer to help you argue your case for joint or sole child custody. However, it’s ideal to negotiate the decisions with your former spouse whenever possible. You can have an attorney or another licensed professional facilitate negotiations with your spouse to maintain the peace.

Physical custody

Physical custody means where your child lives. Just as with legal custody, you could have joint or physical child custody. If the court grants joint physical custody, then your child will split their time equally between you and your former spouse.

Sole physical custody means the child primarily resides with one parent. Visitation rights still allow the other parent to spend time with their child. Parents can negotiate how much time their child spends with the other during visitation. If they can’t come to an agreement, the judge will decide.

Types of visitation

The three types of visitation are unsupervised, supervised and virtual. Unsupervised is the most common type of visitation. Virtual visitation is spending time with your child through video calls. Protecting your virtual visitation rights is especially important if the child lives far away or you don’t get to see the child in person often. If the judge requires supervised visitation, this means you need a qualified adult present. Examples of qualified adults may include grandparents, family friends and social workers.

To ensure you come to a child custody and visitation agreement that both you and your former spouse are happy with, it’s best to negotiate even if you need a third-party facilitator to keep negotiations civil. You should also consult with a family lawyer to protect your rights during the process.