Common Misconceptions related to Joint Custody and Child Support In New Jersey
Read on to learn a few common misconceptions divorcing spouses encounter that affect them moving forward.
Divorce is a complicated matter. Because it is a legal union in addition to a relationship based on love, its separation requires clarity and precision on all levels. One thing that can get in the way of this clarity is the divorcing spouse’s understanding of what common procedures and terms related to the divorce mean. To limit misunderstanding that may cause problems down the road, both attorneys and judges must ensure that the litigants understand the lay meaning of legal processes and outcomes.
Physical, Legal, and Joint Custody
Surprisingly, custody is one area for which many divorcing couples in New Jersey are underinformed or misinformed. When, in an introductory consultation, a spouse says, “we want joint custody,” they often don’t recognize that joint custody takes many forms.
First of all, there are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines with whom the child will live, and this can take many shapes. Legal custody determines who will have a legal say in decisions regarding the child’s educational, medical, and general wellbeing.
Types of Physical Custody
When a person with a child is considering divorce, they often don’t have the necessary information to make informed considerations about how best to move forward. There are three types of physical custody, and two of them are ‘joint.’ Joint custody means that both parents spend time with the child based on the parenting time agreements they determine together, or that is court-established where they cannot reach an agreement. While many who want ‘joint’ custody are thinking that they want the child to live with them an equal amount as they live with their spouse, this is rarely awarded by a court. Why? A 50/50 split is, in most cases, destabilizing for a child, as the child has to uproot and move back and forth more than is in their best interest.
The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part’s priority is the best interest of the child, so unless the parents live very close to one another, have an amicable relationship, and have similar parenting philosophies – or unless the divorcing couple engages in nesting, by which the children live in the same home and the parents move back and forth between the family home and their secondary space, the courts will likely not award complete joint custody.
Primary Residential Custodian and Parent of Alternate Residence
The more likely arrangement is that one parent will be awarded primary residential custodian and the other parent of alternate residence. In this joint custodial agreement, the child lives with and spends the majority of time with one parent. The other parent has ample visitation rights, as determined by their parenting time agreement schedules. The third physical custody agreement is sole custody, in which one parent has exclusive residential rights, and the other parent has limited and perhaps supervised visitation.
Child Support Expenses
Another common confusion regarding legal jargon is the meaning of child support. Believe it or not, many divorced parents request bank statements and other accounting to prove that the child support they have paid has gone specifically and exclusively to the support of the child. When they demand this type of accounting, they generally think that their payments must be limited to direct child spendings, such as school supplies and extracurricular lessons. However, child support costs are far broader, and a parent receiving child support payments could be using that financial support to cover household expenses such as rent and utilities, car and gas payments, groceries, and other costs that are split between the householders, but of which the child is one. As such, a parent paying child support cannot argue that the other parent uses their specially allocated funds towards their own means. Supporting a child takes many financial forms, and the receiving parent is within their legal rights to use those child support funds in those ways. Of course, if a parent receiving child support is found to be using those funds to cover personal expenses or for personal matters, the ex-spouse could take that matter up with the courts.
Contact Our Sea Girt NJ Joint Custody and Child Support Attorneys Today
At Peter J. Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced team of divorce attorneys supports clients in towns across Ocean and Monmouth County, including Jackson, Sea Girt, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Wall, and the surrounding communities in all divorce and custody needs.
To schedule a consultation with a team member today regarding your divorce and custody arrangement, please contact us online or through either our Brick office or our Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102.