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If you`re a parent going through a divorce or separation in New Jersey, you might be wondering about custody arrangements for your children. The good news is that there are options available even if you don`t have a formal custody agreement in place.

First and foremost, it`s important to understand that custody refers to both legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make significant decisions about your child`s life, such as healthcare, education, and religion. Physical custody refers to where your child will live.

Without a custody agreement in place, both parents technically have equal legal and physical custody of their child. However, this can lead to disagreements and confusion about decision-making and parenting time.

One option is to work with a mediator who can help facilitate discussions and come up with a custody agreement that works for both parties. Mediation can be a more cost-effective and less stressful alternative to going to court.

If mediation isn`t successful or isn`t an option, you can file for custody with the New Jersey courts. The court will consider factors such as the child`s relationship with each parent, the child`s age and health, and each parent`s ability to provide a stable and safe home environment.

It`s important to note that if the court determines that one parent is unfit to have custody, the other parent may be granted sole custody. In cases where both parents are fit, the court may award joint legal and physical custody.

Ultimately, if you don`t have a custody agreement in place, it`s important to prioritize your child`s well-being and work towards a resolution that allows for both parents to be involved in their life. Consider seeking legal advice and support to navigate this challenging process.