You have separated from your child’s other parent and since your split, your ex has been directing how and when you spend time with your child. What you can you do to protect your rights as a parent? Here’s what separated parents can do to secure their parenting time with their kids.
Get to Court
Courts make decisions regarding kids based upon what is in their best interests and the judges in New Jersey firmly believe that children thrive when both parents are as involved in their lives as possible. Following separation, parents can put in place temporary child custody and parenting time orders that can last until the parent’s divorce is final (or parents reconcile). Some parents are able to hammer out temporary custody agreements themselves, usually with the help of their attorneys.
If your ex is resistant or unable to negotiate with you, you are to file an application with the court establishing custody and parenting time. The judge will issue a court order that must be followed. If your child’s other parent has already shown their hand that they are unreasonable or controlling, court may be the better option for you.
Know what to ask for
In deciding what kind of temporary order to request, consider what type of custody works best for your child and remember to be reasonable. For example, if you want to ask the court for joint physical custody, where you and your ex share having your child fifty percent of the time, be sure that you are able to actually be there with your child. If you work out of the home 80 hours per week, it is unlikely that sharing physical custody would be in your child’s best interests. If sharing physical custody is not realistic, then be sure to get a good parenting time plan in place so you know when and where you will be spending time with your child. And, make sure that you seek joint legal custody, so that you can be involved in decisions regarding your child’s education and major health concerns.
Talk to an attorney
Getting advice from an experienced family law attorney can really help you get on track and determine the best course of action for your family. Your attorney can guide you on the law, draft and file your documents and represent your interests as your advocate in court, if needed. Even more importantly, your attorney can act as a facilitator if you and your ex can put aside the anger and resentment and come to your own parenting plan without the involvement of a judge. Honestly, it is always best, and encouraged that you and your child’s other parent work out your own parenting plans. Why would you want a stranger, the judge, to become so involved in your family’s future and make decisions about your children?
Mediation can help
If you need help crafting your plan with your ex, consider private mediation, where a qualified mediator can assist both of you in coming up with your own plan that works best for everyone. The mediator can be an attorney, but does not represent either of you. Instead, the mediator guides you towards a resolution that is within the framework of the law in New Jersey as it relates to custody and parenting time.
Above all, remember that your child’s other parent, even if your child lives with them, is not the boss. You have rights as a parent that should be recognized, respected and put down into a court order so that your rights can be enforced, in court, if needed.
Have questions about your custody situation? If you would like more information about parenting plans or any other area of family law, contact us today to schedule your confidential consultation with one of our caring and trained attorneys or mediators.