Custody & Visitation

At Breitowich Law, we know that time spent with your child is a precious commodity. We’re here to help you navigate the details of a successful co-parenting arrangement.

When determining the most appropriate custody arrangement for a child residing in New Jersey, there are two types of custody that need to be considered: legal custody and residential custody. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions about raising and caring for your child. These decisions often surround the child’s health, education and most matters relating to the child’s overall wellbeing.  Residential custody refers to where a child resides and where the child spends their time. 

Within each of these custody types, there is the option for custody to be joint, split, or shared. With that in mind, potential custody arrangements may include joint legal custody, sole legal custody,  joint physical custody, and sole legal and physical custody, shared legal and physical custody.

Within the two areas of custody described above (joint and legal), there is the option for custody to be joint, split, or shared. With that in mind, potential custody arrangements may include the following:

  • Joint legal custody: The most common custody designation is that of joint legal custody.  In this arrangement, both parents will have the ability to participate and make decisions regarding the child’s health, education and welfare.  Both parents will be given the ability to have contact with the child’s healthcare provider, teacher, and will jointly make decisions that are best for the child.  

In this arrangement, the child will reside with one parent for most of the time, also known as the Parent of Primary Residence or PPR, and spend the remaining time at the home of the other parent, also known as the Parent of Alternate Residence or PAR. The Parent of Primary Residency will be primarily responsible for the day to day care of the child and the decisions that come along with that responsibility.  

The Parent of Alternate Residence will have a parenting time schedule that will allow for the child to spend a designated amount of time at the parent’s home, most often on a set schedule, and provide for holidays to be alternated between the parties. 

  • Shared Legal and Residential Custody: In this arrangement, the parents will share legal custody of the child and will both have equal ability to participate and make decisions regarding the child’s health, education and welfare.  However, in this arrangement, the parents will have equal, or close to equal, parenting time with the child.  This arrangement is best when both parents exhibit the ability to effectively communicate and co-parent with one another despite the change in their relationship status.


  • Sole Legal and Residential Custody: This arrangement is least common of all arrangements.  In this arrangement, the parent with whom the child resides has the ability to make all major decisions regarding the child without the need for input or approval from the other parent.  This arrangement is less common as it is generally the result of one parent being determined to be unfit to appropriately care for a child due to reasons such as abuse, neglect, violence or substance abuse.  Often this arrangement is only reached by way of a determination of a Court.  Although one parent is given extensive decision making ability in this arrangement, the other parent may still be permitted to have contact with a child under appropriate circumstances.   

Under NJ law, courts are given considerable leeway in fashioning custody arrangements. No one family is identical to the next and there is no one set arrangement that works for everyone.  When determining a custody arrangement, family court judges currently rule based on the primary underlying factor of what is in the best interests of the children. The courts take several factors into consideration in this determination including but not limited to:

  • The overall stability of each home environment
  • The individual parent’s ability to care for the children
  • Any unique needs of the children (medical, psychological, and/or emotional

No. This notion finds its basis in the fact that years ago, family courts used to apply a legal principle known as The Tender Years Doctrine in determining child custody. Under this doctrine, many times mothers were often awarded custody due to the fact that they were largely seen by society as being natural caregivers. This was seen as the case with young children specifically, especially children aged 5 and under. Today this principle is thankfully observed as being extremely outdated and it does not have significant influence on decisions surrounding custody. 

The underlying consideration when a court makes a child custody decision is the best interest of the child, not the sex or gender role that a parent plays in the child’s life. The law presumes that it is in the child’s best interest to have frequent and continued contact with both parents.

Custody & Visitation with Sylvia

The dividing of assets after a divorce or separation can be a trying & arduous process. However, among homes, vehicles, and the like- the most precious asset to divide is undoubtedly time spent with your children. We are skilled negotiators and we are prepared to help you come to an agreement that exists solely in the best interest of your children.