Once the custody of the children has been determined focus usually shifts to parenting time or visitation. Resolving child visitation and parenting time issues can often be just as difficult and emotional as custody issues. When dealing with New Jersey child visitation matters there is no formula or standard parenting plan. For most couples facing divorce, the resolution of child visitation schedules is complex and highly customizable.
New Jersey Visitation Basics Parenting plans are merely schedules that define which parent will be with the children at what time. Creating a sensible NJ child visitation and parenting time plan that is designed your family is essential to its success. In developing a workable child visitation and parenting time plan you should consider the following:
- Work schedules of both parents
- Educational needs of the children
- Extra-curricular and social needs of the children
- Child care needs
- Age of the children
- Geographic distance between the parents
- Extended family member involvement
Most, but not all, child visitation and parenting time plans alternate weekends between the parents.
This is typically done so that both parents have time with the children when they are not working and the children are not in school. This is commonly referred to as “fun time”. The converse is “treadmill time” which refers to the time when the custodial parent comes home from work, picks up the children form their after school activities, prepares dinner, does homework or checks homework with the children, ensures they are bathed, gets the children to bed, does household chores, and then goes to bed, only to get up the next morning to see that the children wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, have their lunch and get to school on time. “Treadmill time” while important and essential is not quality parent – child time.
Be Specific with Your Parenting Plan Because, every New Jersey family is unique and has different needs, there is no “one size fits all” parenting plan. An abundance of detail in your parenting plan is the best way to avoid future conflict. This is not to say that some flexibility in parenting plans is a bad idea. Your children's needs can be a moving target that may require temporary adjustments to the parenting plan and visitation schedule. When drafting your child visitation and parenting time plan include detailed provisions for the following:
- Religious holidays
- Secular holidays
- National holidays
- School holidays and academic break periods
- Children's birthdays
- Parents' birthdays
- Children's after school activities
- Summer vacations
- Access to school and medical records
Modifications of New Jersey Visitation and Parenting Plans It is important to remember that in New Jersey, parenting plans are always modifiable based on a change in circumstances and the best interest of the child. Changed circumstances are not just limited to changes with the children; they can also include changes with either of the parents. The remarriage of one or both parents, or the change of job or residence of either parent can often be the basis of a modification of parenting time.
The NJ visitation lawyers and divorce attorneys at DeMichele and DeMichele are skilled advocates who are ready to assist you your parenting plan and child visitation issues. If you are looking to establish a parenting plan or modify an existing visitation schedule, we can help you accomplish your goals.
To learn more about Custody & Parenting Time, please also see my Blog page.