Many couples choose to go through a period of separation before actually filing for divorce. In fact, some couples may even choose separation as an alternative to divorce. For parents, this creates a potentially complicated situation, and it raises an important question: who gets custody during a separation?
Steven Menack has extensive experience handling complex child custody cases. In this article we’ll explain what parents in New Jersey need to know about the state’s rules and regulations regarding child custody during separation.
Both Parents Retain their Rights During Separation
There is no law that says that married couples must live together, or even interact with each other. Separation is an inherently voluntary arrangement. From the view of the law, a separated couple is still a married couple. This matters because it means that, legally speaking, nothing has changed yet. As such, both parents are assumed to retain full custody rights during their period of separation. No parent gets to be in ‘control’ unless there has been a court order.
Is NJ a 50/50 Custody State?
Courts in New Jersey generally tend to favor joint legal and joint physical custody arrangements between the parents. The court prefers custody agreements that allow the child to have a relationship with both of their parents.
NJ does lean toward 50/50 custody when it comes to joint custody arrangements. The court makes custody decisions based on the best interests of the child, presuming that it is best for both parents to share responsibility for the child’s well-being. That is why, when joint custody is agreed upon or ordered by the court, it is often a 50/50 custody arrangement in New Jersey.
At What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in NJ?
If the child is over the age of 12, their wishes may be taken into consideration by a judge. That being said, the judge will make the final custody decision based on what they believe is in the best interests of the child, regardless of the child’s preference. According to NJ family law, a child can only truly choose which parent to live with once they are emancipated and/or reach the age of majority, which is 18.
Steven Menack Separation Mediation Services
In separation mediation, Mr. Menack works with both parties in order to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement on a range of issues including:
- Equitable Distribution of Assets and Debts
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Parenting Time
- Alimony (or Spousal Support)
As a separation mediator, Mr. Menack will not represent either party but will instead facilitate a dialogue in order to help both parties involved come to a fair and equitable agreement on all the outstanding issues in their case. Once all the details have been decided, the mediator will assist in drawing up a separation agreement and the couple can move towards legal separation.
Read our Divorce Mediation Checklist to learn about important issues and documents during this process.
Contact Steven B. Menack Today
Separation mediation helps couples move on with their lives in a collaborative and positive manner without total dissolution of a marriage. When it comes to mediation, Mr. Menack has helped many couples reach a fair agreement together over the course of 25 years. If legal separation and separation mediation seem like the right call for you and your spouse, do not hesitate to contact us in order to find out more about the mediation process.