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New Jersey Parenting Plans

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If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey, or if you are in the middle of a custody battle, you have likely heard the term “parenting plan.” A parenting plan is an agreement between parents over the distribution of parenting time. The parents can draft the agreement themselves, or they can rely on professionals, including lawyers, child psychologists, and mediators, to help draft the plan. Agreeing on a parenting plan can be key to helping a divorce run more smoothly and amicably, and can prevent custody battles from becoming vicious, drawn-out affairs that do more harm than good for everyone involved. Read on for a discussion of parenting plans in New Jersey and call a savvy New Jersey child custody attorney for help with a child custody matter or New Jersey divorce.

What does a parenting plan generally cover?

In New Jersey, parenting plans are meant to cover all aspects of “parenting time.” Parenting time is a broad-brush term that includes all physical time spent between parents and their children. That includes physical custody (living arrangements), visitation, specific events, and any other arrangements the parents choose. Parenting plans can be as simple as giving equal physical custody time to each parent, or as granular as deciding where the kids will spend each weekend, summer vacation, and holiday.

How are parenting plans typically structured?

The primary function of a parenting plan is to lay out a structure for physical custody. Custody is determined based either on the agreement of the parents or according to the court based on the best interests of the child. The most common base custody arrangements include the following:

  • Sole physical custody. Sole physical custody is not favored by New Jersey courts and is typically reserved for situations where one parent is incarcerated or specifically unfit. A parenting plan for sole custody can set out visitation arrangements and include limitations such as supervised visits. New Jersey courts prefer these arrangements to be temporary rather than permanent.
  • Shared physical custody. Shared custody involves granting each parent more or less equal time with the children. Parents may decide to have the kids stay with each parent for a week or two weeks at a time, or whatever arrangement works with the schedules of the parents and the needs of the children.
  • Primary and alternate residences. This is a common arrangement involving one primary residence for the children. The kids will go to the other parent’s residence on a set schedule. For example, one parent may take the kids on the weekends or summer vacation, while the other parent has the kids on school days. The non-custodial parent can also schedule regular parent-child visitation events such as meals and other outings.

On top of these basic structures, parents can choose to be as specific as they need to be in a parenting plan. We advise clients to be as specific and detailed as possible to avoid any confusion or disputes down the line.

Advice and Representation for Your New Jersey Child Custody Matter

If you are dealing with child custody, visitation, or other family law issues in New Jersey, speak with the seasoned and effective family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro. Call us today at 908-964-0102.

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