Even the most thorough parenting time plans can become a source of frustration and conflict as children become more involved in extracurricular activities. Certainly, it is not unexpected that as children get older they become more involved with their friends, sports, after school activities, and community organizations. A non-custodial parent, however, usually has a set period of parenting time with the child. Unless parents are in complete agreement on the children’s extracurricular activities, conflicts can arise when those extracurricular activities occur on the noncustodial parent’s parenting time.
When these types of conflicts do arise, parents should be mindful that New Jersey courts will consider the child’s best interests, their ages and give weight to their desires as it relates to extracurricular activities. Courts have determined that even intact families struggle with managing the many obligations tugging at children’s schedules from home, school, sports and houses of faith. Mandating strict adherence to a rigid parenting time plan can deprive the children of the ability to participate in activities. Therefore, flexibility by both parties is required.
An attorney needs to be aware of the conflict between the children’s desire to participate in extracurricular activities and a noncustodial parent’s desire to exercise parenting time without constant interruption by those activities. Sometimes, the noncustodial parent will claim that the activities are being intentionally scheduled during their time so that it is interfered with or curtailed. This could be true in the case of the custodial parent who enrolls the child in activities that only take place during weekends or during the noncustodial parent’s time. There is a fine line between purposeful interference with parenting time and demands being made on the children’s time from third parties. An attorney can help you analyze the facts as it relates to your specific parenting time schedule and advocate for you.
Source: “The Not-So-Basic Fundamentals of the Child Support Guidelines” by Maria A. Giammona, Esq., New Jersey Family Lawyer, Volume 32, Number 6, April 2012.