For children, divorce is difficult enough on them without a back and forth over custody and parenting time. In a best-case scenario, the sides can come to a reasonable agreement as to how to share the child. If not, the case will need to be decided by the court. In New Jersey, the court will ask the parents to submit a proposed schedule and arrangement for custody and parenting time. Knowing how this is done is a key part of a case.
Points to remember about custody and parenting time cases
Once the sides determine that they cannot come to an agreement on their own, each side must file a plan for their preferred template of custody and parenting time. The court will assess these plans and consider them as it makes its decision. This must be filed within 75 days of the previous responsive pleading in the case. If they took part in mediation and it failed, they will have 14 days from its conclusion to file.
In the plan, the parties must give all of their vital information including their addresses and employment situation. Since there are several alternatives for custody, they must state which one they want and why. The choices include joint legal custody with one parent having the child reside with them, joint physical custody, sole custody for one with the other parent having parenting time or they could formulate their own arrangement.
A common topic for discord between parents is time off from school, weekends, special occasions and holidays. This is relevant as spring break and the summer approaches. The parent should make a schedule for that. For example, one might want to have the child for an extended period over the summer. The other could prefer having the child over a specific religious holiday.
The parents must detail how they will handle the child’s medical and school records, how a parent moving to a different area will be addressed, how they will negotiate when decisions need to be made on behalf of the child and other critical information.
When dealing with custody and parenting time issues, remember to get help
Parents want the best for their children and the court’s primary objective is to serve the child’s best interests. That, however, does not mean there will always be an easy road to come with a custody and parenting time agreement.
Parents should be aware of the process and know that they are unlikely to get everything they want. Perhaps negotiation could be a better strategy. Or, if not, it will need to be handled by the court. No matter what, it is wise to have trustworthy and professional guidance.