Parents who are separating are often faced with the difficulty of working out custody and determining how, going forward, the children will spend time with each parent now that they are living apart from one another. It is always the goal to work with your ex-partner to determine what plans work best not only for you and your ex, but more importantly, for your children. Children thrive by being with both parents as much as possible, and this makes coming up with workable solutions in everyone’s best interests.
Once physical (also known as residential) custody is figured out, separating couples should then look to determine a parenting time plan for the parent who does not have residential custody of the children. In other words, the parent who does not have the children living with him or her on a regular basis is entitled to parenting time with the children. How often and what type of parenting time the non-custodial parent has should be figured out by mom and dad together.
You may have noticed that we are referring to time spent with the children as “parenting time.” Parenting time has been the preferred term in New Jersey for quite some time, now. The more archaic and possibly more familiar term that was used in the past is “visitation.” But, because a parent spending time with their own child is really time spent parenting the child and not just visiting with the child, the terms have evolved over time. Today, in New Jersey, you will see the term “parenting time” utilized by attorneys and the courts much more frequently than the term “visitation.” Despite the difference in terms, however; both mean exactly the same.
Not every parenting time plan is identical and not every plan works for all parents. Some parents chose to have parenting time every other weekend and one time per week for a dinner. Some parents chose to spend every weekend with the children, while the other parent has the children during the week. Issues such as work schedules, geography and children’s extracurricular activities are factors that need to be considered in formulating a feasible parenting time plan. Further, holidays and summer vacations should be contemplated when coming up with a plan. Will one parent have every Christmas break with the kids? Will each parent enjoy one continual month with them in the summer? How will travel be handled? What about picking up and dropping off the children?
It is important to remember that your children are the focus when formulating parenting time. With as little disruption to their lives as possible, children will thrive in an environment that has both parents integrally involved in their worlds. Ask yourself what is the smoothest way we can transition the kids to this new arrangement? Will you or your ex need to rearrange their work schedule? Can you handle transporting the children for parenting time? Are you able to have the kids stay overnights at your new home?
If you and your ex are struggling to come up with a working parenting time plan, seek the advice of an experienced attorneys who has handled parenting time and custody issues here in New Jersey.
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