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Divorce & Parenting Plans: 4 Tips to Create Workable Agreements

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.