In New Jersey, parents are encouraged to structure a parenting plan based on the best interests of their children. While there are several options, most parents follow one of the following parenting plan formats:
Shared physical custody. In the case that both parents seek fairly equal parenting time, a parenting plan may include alternating weeks or blocks of shorter time that alternate between parents so there is a shorter period between time spent with either parent.
Primary physical custody. When one parent is awarded primary physical custody, the children typically spend most of their week living with the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent then usually spends time with the children on alternating weekends and one night each week.
Sole physical custody. If one parent has been given sole physical custody, there is usually a reason that the child’s time with the other parent is limited or visits must be supervised. Your parenting plan will need to reflect these realities.
When developing your parenting plan, you should take into consideration the following factors:
- The age and emotional development level of each child.
- How parenting time was divided prior to the divorce.
- Work schedules for both parents.
- School calendar.
- Children’s extracurricular activities.
- Whether extended family will participate in the plan.
Parenting plans work best when they are as specific as possible, so everyone is on the same page. If you get along well with your ex-spouse, you may be tempted to leave the plan general for the sake of flexibility, but doing so could mean that you will face difficulties if you want to enforce the plan. Some of the items you should include in your parenting plan include:
- The designation of who has legal and physical custody.
- A detailed description of how time will be split between parents.
- How holidays, birthdays, vacations, and other special occasions will be treated.
- If and how any time-sharing arrangements will change when school is out.
- Provisions addressing traveling with children out of state or out of the country.
- Provisions addressing any special transportation needs.
- How private information — i.e., medical and school records — will be shared.
It is important that you do not wait too long to retain an attorney when you are facing a family law issue. Delays can cost you valuable legal rights, and you want to make sure that you have the advice and support you need to make the best decisions for you and your family long after the divorce settlement is reached. Contact us today for your free consultation.