What is the Process to File for Child Custody in New Jersey?

As a resident of New Jersey involved in a divorce or similar type of proceeding, a prime consideration for you may be how to file for child custody. Child custody laws and court procedures are codified in the New Jersey Permanent Statutes, Title 9.

A gavel on the bench in a court of law. (Image: JanPietruszka/iStock/Getty Images)


The process to file for child custody in New Jersey commences with drafting a motion for custody. The superior court clerk in the county where the child is located maintains a selection of standard forms needed by people involved in custody cases who lack legal representation.


New Jersey law permits you to file for two types of child custody. First, you can seek legal custody, which grants you the right to make decisions from the child. Second, you can file for physical or residential custody. You can seek both types of custody. You must specify the type or types of custody in the motion you file in the superior court.


The process for seeking child custody in New Jersey requires a demonstration to the judge presiding over the case that the child's best interests are served by approving the custody arrangement you propose in your filing, according to New Jersey Permanent Statutes, Title 9.


When filing for child custody in New Jersey, a variety of considerations come into play. The court must weigh and balance factors, including which parent historically provided primary care for the child. Additional factors under New Jersey law include a review of the living arrangements of both parents, and the overall physical and mental health of the parties.

Expert Assistance

Due to the complexity of the process to file for child custody in New Jersey, consider retaining a lawyer. The New Jersey State Bar Association maintains resources to assist you in finding a qualified lawyer to represent you in a child custody matter.

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