Although child custody and visitation are often talked about together, they are two different things. For a parent in New Jersey, visitation may mean that the child can spend time with that parent but not live full-time with him or her. If one parent has custody and the other parent has visitation, a typical arrangement is for the child to spend the majority of time with the custodial parent.
There are two different kinds of custody: Physical custody is about where the child lives, and legal custody is about who has the ability to make decisions about major issues in the child’s life such as health care, school or religion. Parents often share legal custody even if only one parent has physical custody.
However, physical custody can be shared as well. Parents might have an arrangement in which the child spends almost the same amount of time with each of them.
In a divorce, joint custody could be arranged in many different ways. The child might spend part of the week with one parent and the other half of the week with the other parent, or the child might alternate weeks. Some parents come up with creative solutions such as allowing the children to live in the family home while they take turns living there. Parents may be able to negotiate an arrangement that suits them and takes into account any situations such as an unusual work schedule. However, in some cases, they may be unable to reach an agreement and need to go to court. If one parent believes the other parent poses a danger to the child’s well-being because of abuse or neglect, that parent may want to try to prevent the other parent from having access to the child or limit the access to supervised visitation only.