Parents with minor children will face a number of important decisions as
they navigate the
divorce process. Although working together, striking compromise, and reaching
a workable agreement over
child custody and parenting time can be easier said than done, it is something that
can benefit children and ensure a smooth transition into a new phase of life.
New Jersey uses the term “parenting time” to refer to the established
time a divorced parent spends with their children – regardless of
whether they are the custodial or non-custodial parent or physical custody
is equally shared. While such time may be also be referred to as “visitation,”
parenting time more accurately describes the role of a parent in their
child’s life – they are more than just visitors.
When devising plans to parenting time arrangements, co-parents are granted
the flexibility to reach compromise and structured plans most manageable
for them – provided they meet the best interests of their children.
These types of plans may include one primary residential parent with whom
children spend most of their time, shared physical custody, or sole physical
custody. In any situation, devising a workable agreement is still important
for establishing ground-rules and ensuring children receive the care and
attention they deserve. To achieve this, consider the following tips:
Focus on children – While it can be difficult to separate feelings about your spouse
during divorce from matters involving children, compartmentalizing can
be beneficial. Unless issues with your soon-to-be former spouse involve
domestic violence, substance abuse, or other issues that threaten a child’s well-being,
it is important to remember that children benefit most when they have
both parents actively involved in their life. Discussions over parenting
plans should avoid grievances that led to the demise of a marriage if
and when possible, and focus on the children – as well as compromises
in their best interests. This includes considerations about any unique
needs they have, medical or otherwise. If children are old enough, their
opinions matter too – so allow them the opportunity to be heard.
Begin with Living arrangements – One of the first and most important questions to ask is where
children will primarily live. This may require careful consideration of
the age of children, school and work schedules, where each parent resides,
and more. Some co-parents reach agreements for a child to spend a majority
of their time with one parent who has primary physical custody, while
others structure plans for equal or nearly equal parenting time consisting
of alternating weeks or shorter blocks of parenting time.
Think about holidays and special occasions – Co-parents should spend time thinking about the most feasible
and suitable plans for holidays and other special occasions, including
family vacations and summer break from school. Typically, parents choose
alternating holidays, but if certain special traditions are involved,
parents may need to reach compromises they can both agree with.
Remember communication – Communication is not just essential during the formulation of
parenting plans during divorce; it’s the foundation of successful
co-parenting throughout a child’s life. This means it is important
to determine how you will handle communication with the other parent,
who will make decisions regarding the child’s education, medical
needs, and extra-curricular activities, and how to establish flexibility
about communicating any conflicts or changes with parenting plans as they arise.
Have questions about divorce, child custody, and parenting time? Our divorce
lawyers at Moskowitz Law Group, LLC have decades of combined experience
handling these matters, and are available to discuss your case. We proudly
serve clients throughout New Jersey and New York.
Contact us for a FREE consultation.