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How is Parenting Time Determined in New Jersey?

One of the matters that must be dealt with during a divorce of two parents is child custody. When custody is determined, it also puts the issue of parenting time into question as well. Parenting time is usually linked to physical custody. Depending on the physical custody situation between the former spouses, it must be established how much time each parent gets to spend with their child. This can be done between the parents on their own or with the help of a judge in court.

Examples of Parenting Arrangements

Co-parents in the state of New Jersey are allowed to create a parenting schedule that they believe works, as long as it is in the best interest of the child. While there are many ways a parenting schedule can be arranged, the following are some common options used by parents:

  • One primary residential parent and one alternative residential parent: With this arrangement, the child spends most of their time residing with the primary physical custody parent. The other parent then follows a visitation schedule and spends alternate weekends with their child. 
  • Shared physical custody: This schedule can allow parents to have equal, or close to equal, time with their child. This can include alternating weeks or shorter periods of time spent with the child. 
  • Sole physical custody: It is rare for a parent to be granted sole custody. However, it is possible. In these situations, the parent that is not granted custody may have limited visitation time. Courts are usually in favor of visitation unless it is not in the child’s best interest.

Creating a Parenting Time Plan

There are numerous factors to consider when creating a parenting time plan. This can include but is not limited to the following:

  • The child’s age and development level
  • Each parents’ responsibilities before their separation
  • How the child can feel comfortable and cared for at all times
  • Each parent’s current work schedule and possible vacation time
  • The child’s school location
  • Any extracurricular activities
  • The child’s needs

It is also important to include certain terms within the parenting time plan. Doing so ensures the arrangement can be enforced if it is not followed by one parent. Terms to be included can consist of:

  • A designation of physical and legal custody
  • A description of the parenting arrangement
  • A description of any changes that may occur in the arrangement as well as methods to modify the plan
  • A statement delegating any parental responsibilities and rights
  • Transportation concerns to bring the child to and from each parent
  • Any concerns regarding birthdays and holidays
  • Provisions regarding traveling out of the state or country
  • A description of access to and sharing school and medical records

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