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New Jersey Child Custody Attorneys

Helping clients create personalized, child-first custody plans that support their families

Child custody can be one of the most emotional parts of separating from your partner. Childhood is fleeting, and you don’t want to lose any time with your children. You also want to make sure you’re minimizing the impact of this process on them.

The demands of the child custody process can be a balancing act, but working with an experienced attorney can help reduce stress and create better outcomes for children and their families.

The NJ child custody lawyers at Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski understand that your family’s needs are important and unique, and we fight tirelessly to represent your family’s best interests in and out of the courtroom. Contact us today for a consultation.

Our Approach to Child Custody at Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski


Your children are one of the most important parts of your life, and you want the best outcomes for them, no matter what. We’re here to help you achieve that goal.

At Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski, we know firsthand the difference that a personalized child custody plan has on the well-being of your children and your family. We work closely with families so they feel supported and listened to throughout the process. Our approach to family law starts with the belief that:

  • Each family law matter should receive personal attention and an approach that reflects the client’s needs
  • Every client should receive clear communication and detailed information at all stages of the legal process
  • Every family deserves the chance for a fresh start and a happy future

We believe that each family we work with deserves the opportunity to thrive. Our goal is to create tailored child custody arrangements that give you the best opportunity to do so.

Types of Child Custody


Child custody involves a number of factors. Finding the right solution for your family often requires customizing your child custody agreement to your family’s specific situation. What works well for one family may not work for another.

In the state of New Jersey, there are several different aspects of child custody that need to be considered.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where and with whom a child resides. Physical custody can be either joint or sole.

Joint physical custody

Joint physical custody involves both parents receiving parenting or visitation time with their child.

A joint physical custody arrangement can take many forms, but the goal is to equally split time between residences.

Sole physical custody

A custody arrangement is considered a sole physical custody arrangement if a child lives with one parent most of the time, spending less than two nights each week with the non-custodial parent.

There’s no one right way to create a custody agreement.  Courts allow families a great deal of flexibility in arranging parenting time as long as it is in the best interest of the child. 


An experienced child custody attorney is a valuable asset in crafting a child custody agreement that meets your family’s needs.

Legal Custody

Legal custody plays a critical role in raising your child. Through legal custody, parents retain the right to make decisions about the child’s life, such as decisions regarding education, healthcare, or religion.

Like physical custody, legal custody can either be shared or sole.

Joint legal custody

Under joint legal custody, both parents have the right to participate in making major decisions for a child. Major decisions might include whether a child receives medical treatment, attends a particular school, or attends religious services.

Major decisions aren’t limited to these things—context is important, especially when financial costs are involved. If you’re unsure of what constitutes a major decision, speaking with a child custody attorney can help you address questions before they become problems.

Sole legal custody

When a parent has sole legal custody of their child, they have the right to make major decisions for their child without consulting the other parent.

Sole legal custody has become less common as greater emphasis is placed on co-parenting and keeping both parents involved in their child’s life. Sole legal custody may be granted in certain situations:

  • History of emotional or physical abuse
  • Demonstrated failure to make decisions in the best interest of their child
  • Demonstrated inability to agree or cooperate in matters in the best interest of the child
  • Parental incapacity due to mental illness, alcoholism, or drug addiction

The decision to seek sole custody can be a difficult one, but you don’t have to make it on your own. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and help you understand your options.

How Is Child Custody Determined in New Jersey?


Courts in New Jersey allow parents significant leeway in determining what kind of custody arrangement will meet the needs of their family—and it’s almost always preferable to collaborate with your co-parent to create a custody agreement.

Even in situations where you and your spouse don’t get along, it’s possible to work together on a plan for child custody. Legal strategies such as mediation can reduce conflict and help everyone work together towards a solution.

In the event that you and your spouse cannot agree on custody matters, though, the courts may intervene. It then becomes their job to help decide what is in the best interest of the child. They consider a variety of factors, such as:

  • The child’s physical health and safety
  • The child’s emotional well-being
  • Stability of the home environment
  • Fitness of the parents
  • Parental employment and responsibilities
  • Quality of the child’s education
  • Parents’ co-parenting skills and their willingness to work together
  • The relationship between the child, parents, and any siblings
  • If the child is old enough, the court may take the child’s preferences into consideration

Our Child Custody Services


At Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski, our family law attorneys represent clients in all aspects of child custody cases including child custody, visitation, and parenting time and child support.

Child custody

Your child custody agreement is the cornerstone of your co-parenting relationship with your spouse following divorce or separation. It must allow for quality parenting time, minimize disruption and stress for your child, and account for future unknowns.

We strongly encourage parents to independently arrange their child custody agreements—but we understand that this can be difficult during divorce and separation.


That’s why our team includes trained, court-approved mediators who can help guide you and your co-parent toward a mutually agreed-upon custody arrangement.

Enforcement of child custody agreements

Implementing a child custody agreement requires ongoing communication and cooperation between both parents. But if your co-parent isn’t following the agreed-upon terms of your child custody agreement, it can be difficult for you and your child.

Our attorneys work with families to help them resolve disputes regarding child custody agreements so that your child thrives.


Our attorneys are skilled mediators and can work with you and your co-parent to reestablish a positive child support agreement. While we believe it’s generally in everyone’s best interest to settle matters outside the courtroom, we’re prepared to defend your legal and parental rights in court if needed.

Child custody modifications

Life can change unexpectedly, and even if your child custody agreement has worked well in the past, there may come a time when you need to discuss modifying it.

Circumstances like relocation, new medical or educational needs, or a child’s preference may require a new child custody agreement.


Our experienced child custody attorneys work closely with families to discuss their current situation and how their plan can be adapted to meet their family’s needs.

Work with a Seasoned Child Custody Attorney


Child custody cases require experienced and knowledgeable child custody attorneys. At Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski, we’re dedicated to representing you and your child’s best interests throughout every aspect of your child custody case. Contact us for a consultation.

Child Custody FAQs

How does domestic violence affect my custody case?

Instances of alleged domestic violence will be considered by the court when awarding custody. Our attorneys can guide you throughout this process and help with obtaining a restraining order if needed.

What is sole custody?

Sole custody is the opposite of joint custody: one parent has either sole physical custody or sole legal custody or both.

My child’s other parent hasn’t paid child support. Can I refuse visitation?

No, even if child support has gone unpaid, the visitation schedule must be honored. If you need help enforcing a child support order, contact us for a consultation.

Can my child decide which parent to live with?

A child’s wish to live with one parent over the other will not necessarily determine the outcome of the custody case. However,, a judge will consider a child’s wishes based on their age and credibility.

What is a parenting plan?

If parents can’t decide on a custody arrangement, each party then submits a parenting plan to the court. This is a document that lays out what type of custody would be awarded to each parent and shows when the child will spend time with each, including holidays and vacations.

When can custody be modified?

A custody order can be modified at any time after it is entered.

Can I be denied visitation?

In rare cases, such as those involving domestic violence, the judge may deny visitation or order that visitation must be supervised.

When is a guardian ad litem needed?

A guardian ad litem is necessary when the child’s best interests need to be represented by someone other than the parents’ individual attorneys. The guardian ad litem may be appointed to investigate the fitness of each parent and help determine which parent is the most appropriate for a custody determination.

Can I move my child out of state?

Before attempting to move a child out of state, the moving parent must petition the court to allow it. If the parent moves without petitioning the court, they could be in danger of violating the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.

How do I get custody of my unborn child?

Custody will not be determined until a child is born. However, you can use this time to work out a potential parenting plan with the child’s other parent that can later be submitted to the court.

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