What is the Distinction Between Sole Custody and Joint Custody

Sole vs. Joint Custody

Often, divorcing couples in Ocean and Monmouth County ask what the difference is between sole custody and joint custody of their child or children. This can be one of the most important aspects of your divorce, especially if the children of the marriage are of young age. In general, joint custody entails a common sense approach to decision-making regarding the children; recognizing the impracticality of constant judicial intervention in a micro managed fashion. Due to less judicial involvement, joint custody require a willingness by both parties to openly communicate and discuss issues.

Types of Joint Custody

More specifically, joint custody can be further classified as either 1) joint legal and joint physical custody or 2) joint legal custody with only one parent having primary residential custody. Legal custody refers to decision-making or authority in responsibility for making major decisions regarding the child’s welfare. With joint physical custody the children reside for specified periods of time with each of their parents. In joint legal and physical custody the children reside with each parent and each parent has an equal say in the decisions about the children. Common day-to-day decisions are made generally by the parent with whom the children reside with at the time.

According to N.J.S.A. 9:2-4, both parents are deemed to be equally charged with the care, education and maintenance of the children. While an award of joint custody typically affords deference to the primary parent in decision making, an award of sole custody to only one of the parents gives that parent the residential custody and power to make all day-to-day decisions, including major decisions concerning the children’s health, education, and welfare.

It should be noted that custody determinations at trial are rarely overturned by Appellate Courts as the trial judge is in a far better position to make custody determinations based on witnesses’ demeanor. If the trial judge’s ruling is reversed it typically is due to the Appellate Court determining that there were insufficient factual findings for the trial judge to rule as he/she did.

Villani & DeLuca Can Help with Custody Issues

Partner, Vincent C. DeLuca of the Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Law Firm has successfully mediated hundreds of divorce mediation cases. He is certified by the Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney and he also has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as an Economic Mediator. He typically conducts five (5) mediations per week. The Villani & DeLuca, P.C. law firm has two (2) offices located in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, New Jersey. Should you have any interest in divorce mediation or have questions that you wish to have answered, please call Villani & DeLuca today and schedule your initial consultation at 732-965-3350.