Developing a Favorable Parenting Time Schedule in New Jersey
There are Various Factors That Parties Need to Know When Drafting a Workable Parenting Time Schedule in New Jersey
When a couple with a child divorces, or otherwise decides to raise their child separately, a custody arrangement will be determined. A custody arrangement addresses which of the parents will have legal and physical custody of the child, as well as how parents will share time with their child. Regardless of who has physical custody of the child, the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part is committed to ensuring that each parent has ample visitation with the child if it is safe and appropriate. Unless a parent has a history of domestic violence, criminal activity, drug abuse, or another circumstance that makes engagement with the child an unhealthy influence for them, the Court holds that a child’s maintaining a relationship with each parent is essential for their socioemotional well being. As such, once a custody arrangement is determined, the co-parents must come to an agreement on the specifics of co-parenting. This includes coming to an agreement on a parenting time schedule. Read on to learn more about what a parenting time schedule is, and how it is developed.
Parenting Time Schedule Definition and Basic Guidelines
A parenting time schedule is a full breakdown of physical custody of the child. It is a detailed itinerary of how a child will spend their time after divorce: when they will be with the custodial parent, when they will be with the non-custodial parent, and when they will be with a third party, such as a grandparent, school, or extracurricular activity. This parenting time schedule is part of the parenting time agreement, which is a comprehensive plan for post-divorce child-rearing that is part of the custody order. In addition to the parenting time schedule, the agreement includes an overview of how parents will share responsibilities and decision-making regarding the child’s health and educational development and other details about how the division of the child’s time between parents and potentially households will be logistically handled.
Because divorce is an unsettling time for everyone, especially children, a parenting time schedule serves as a tool to help parents develop consistency and routine with their children while navigating physical custody. If parents come to a custody agreement together, settling out of court, they will develop the parenting time schedule together. If they are not in agreement regarding child custody, they may each submit a proposed parenting time schedule to the judge, which will provide an idea of the custody arrangement they prefer, and the judge will take this into consideration.
Specific Information a Solid Parenting Time Schedule Should Include
A parenting time schedule can be considered visually to be a calendar of the division of a child’s time. In developing a parenting time schedule, co-parents must consider each moment of the child’s life and account for it. This will include the child’s regular school week schedule and how weeks are shared between parents, how and with whom the child spends their weekends, an outline of which parent the child will spend each holiday with, a detailed breakdown of school vacations, and a schedule of non-ordinary occasions the child will spend with each parent (for example, birthdays and special vacations).
A parenting time schedule will also include the prioritization of specific events. For example, a parenting time schedule may outline that the child spends weekends with the non-custodial parent. However, it may also give the custodial parent the right to spend the day with their child on their birthday. If conflicting conditions occur – for example, if their birthday falls on a weekend when the other has the right to be with the child – it is important to know which takes priority. As such, prioritizing conditions is an essential inclusion of a parenting time schedule. Concise instructions support this end.
Each parenting time schedule will be different, customized to fit the needs of the family. That said there are common models that can be followed.
The Type of Physical Custody Impacts the Type of Parenting Time Schedule to Follow
Two different types of physical custody of a child affect greatly the type of parenting time schedule that will be developed. When a parent has sole physical custody, the child lives with them alone. In this case, the non-custodial parent is allowed visitation rights. Depending on the type of visitation rights the non-custodial parent is awarded (supervised and unsupervised being examples), the appropriate parenting time schedule will vary. An example of sole physical custody schedules available to a non-custodial parent with unsupervised visitation rights could be alternating weekends.
When parents share physical custody, or have shared physical custody, the child lives with both parents, essentially belonging to two households (unless the parents have a nesting arrangement, by which the child stays in the marital home, and the parents trade off living at the home). In shared physical custody agreements, in place of visitation, both parents have a regular period of time during which the child spends time with them.
Most Commonly Implemented Parenting Time Schedule Models in NJ
It is up to the parents to determine which schedule is best for their child’s and their own needs. Some common joint custody schedules include a 2-5-5-2, by which the child spends two days with parent A, five days with parent B, the following five days with parent A, and two days with parent B. A similar arrangement is the 3-4-4-3 schedule. In both of these cases, at the end of two weeks, the child has spent an even amount of time with both parents. Another schedule, particularly used by a non-custodial parent in a sole physical custody arrangement, is a plan in which the child stays with them on alternating weekends. Shared summer vacations are also a way custodial and non-custodial parents can each spend quality time with their children.
Contact Our Little Falls Family Lawyers for Assistance when Drafting a Parenting Time Schedule
Because parenting time agreements are as custom-fitted as your family, it is essential that you seek the support of a family law attorney during the drafting of yours. An experienced attorney will ensure that the details of custody, child support, co-parent expectations, transitions between home and activities, fair visitation schedules, legal agreements regarding the child’s upbringing, alternate parenting plans for summer vacation, and other appropriate logistics are taken into account before the agreement is finalized.
If you are in the process of finalizing a custody arrangement, and need to develop a parenting time schedule, our family lawyers at The Montanari Law Group have a wealth of knowledge and experience successfully covering all of the details that may become relevant and influential in your family’s future. We take the time to understand your needs and goals in order to craft agreements with your personal priorities in mind. We are committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for parents and their children in all matters of divorce and custody in West Orange, Caldwell, Wayne, Haledon, Woodland Park, Fort Lee, Ridgewood, Millburn, and throughout Northern New Jersey.
Contact us today at (973) 233-4396 or by filling out our online contact form to receive a free initial consultation. You can also make an appointment to discuss your questions and personal circumstances surrounding your Parenting Time Schedule.