A parenting plan is an agreement between parents concerning the distribution of parenting time. The plan can be drafted by the parents or built by legal and other professionals. When parties to a divorce are able to work together to construct a parenting plan, the divorce process can be made that much easier for any shared children, as well as for the parents themselves. In a divorce involving custody, the mutually-agreed-upon parenting plan can become part of the court’s final order. Unfortunately, divorces are often emotionally complicated affairs that impede complete agreement between the parties. Learn below about what goes into a New Jersey parenting plan, and contact a dedicated Englewood child custody and parental rights attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.
Visitation, Custody, and Parenting Time
New Jersey courts refer to “parenting time” when they discuss time spent between each parent and their children. The general term includes both visitation and custody and applies regardless of whether the parent is custodial or non-custodial. Parenting plans are meant to establish each parent’s parenting time, whether that means visitation for the non-custodial parent or the custody of each parent when the parents share physical custody roughly equally.
Common Parenting Plan Structures
A parenting plan is meant to dictate the physical custody arrangement of any shared children. Plans can take many forms, and generally, courts will approve any parenting plan that fits the parents’ schedules so long as it serves the children’s best interests. Parents typically begin with one of the following plan structures:
- Shared physical custody. Shared physical custody involves roughly equal apportionment of physical custody with each parent. The children may alternate houses each week or every two weeks, or even shorter blocks of time for younger children. The parents can determine how to share custody according to their schedules and the schedules and needs of the children.
- Sole physical custody. Sole physical custody is less common. The plan may set out the non-custodial parent’s visitation, including limitations or requirements such as supervision during the visits as necessary. Courts typically prefer such limitations to be temporary, preferring liberal visitation instead.
- Primary and alternate residential parents. This arrangement involves one parent with primary physical custody, while the second parent takes regular custody on a set schedule. For example, the non-custodial parent may take custody each weekend or every other weekend, and schedule regular parenting time activities such as weekly dinners or other parent-child outings.
Parenting plans work best when they are detailed. They should include specifics concerning legal and physical custody designations, descriptions of any periods where alternate schedules will govern (such as during summer vacation from school), transportation, parenting time during birthdays and other family holidays, as well as any other specifics necessary to keep the arrangement running smoothly.
Advice and Representation for New Jersey Child Custody Matters
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.