Having full custody of a child means you are the only parent entrusted with both physical and legal custody.
Only under specific circumstances would the court award full custody to one parent, and the grounds for that ruling are whether it is in the child’s best interest.
Obtaining Sole Physical Custody
Sole physical custody means your child is with you full-time, allowing the other parent no visitation rights. In New Jersey, obtaining full physical custody is difficult because the court favors maintaining relationships between children and their parents unless the child’s safety is at risk.
However, if you can show that spending time with the other parent could result in mental or physical harm to your child, such as proving parental negligence, you could receive sole physical custody. The only other way to obtain it is for the other parent to agree.
Obtaining Sole Legal Custody
Sole legal custody refers to the ability to make big decisions about your child’s life without needing the input of a co-parent. This means you could make decisions about medical care, relocation or education without seeking the other parent’s approval. Some reasons the court may award sole legal custody to one parent include:
- The long-term absence of the other parent
- The other parent has a restraining order in place for domestic violence
- The incarceration of one parent renders them incapable of participating in decision making
The court evaluates every case situationally with the intention of making a decision regarding custody that will best serve the child.