When parents in New Jersey get divorced, they may have to make difficult decisions about how to handle child custody and visitation. Few parents want to spend more time away from their children, and joint custody is increasingly favored by family courts outside an environment of abuse or neglect. At the same time, however, every family's situation is unique. Concerns about employment, living conditions, supervision or educational continuity for the children may lead many families to opt for one parent to have primary physical custody of the children.
However, this does not have to mean that a noncustodial parent is absent or inactive. Many noncustodial parents enjoy extensive visitation time with their children, including frequent weekend or holiday overnight visits. They may even share legal custody, meaning that they also have authority over major decisions affecting the child, including issues regarding their health care or education. Of course, keeping up with child support payments is another important part of involvement for noncustodial parents.
Some people assume that all noncustodial parents are fathers. In reality, either a father or a mother could have primary physical custody of the children. When fathers pursue custody, they are far likelier to receive joint or primary custody. It is true that most noncustodial parents are men, but this does not have to mean that they are distant from their children. Many noncustodial parents travel frequently for work or share a living situation with roommates but also enjoy an active, loving parent-child relationship.
Divorce can always be particularly challenging for a parent due to the changes that arise in the parent-child relationship. A family law attorney can help a divorcing parent advocate for a fair settlement on a range of issues, including child support, child custody and visitation.