There are several types of custody situations that can be instituted following a New Jersey divorce. In many cases, one parent is granted sole “physical” custody. Also known as residential custody, this designation may be important for a few reasons. First, it provides consistency for the child; they know where they are going to be sleeping and where their “stuff” will be kept. Also, it provides a paper trail for schools and medical facilities; there is one address and one parent responsible for basic decision-making.
A sole physical custody agreement, which calls for the child or children living with one parent, also includes a visitation agreement for the other parent. This agreement sets forth the guidelines for when and how often the non-custodial parent gets to see the kids. In New Jersey, most judges refer to this agreement as “parenting time.” A basic agreement may include two nights per week (overnight or not) and weekend, vacation and holiday time. Your parenting agreement can include any specifics you and your ex agree to.
If you cannot agree on a custodial agreement and visitation plan, however, rest assured, a New Jersey family court judge will decide what’s fair and reasonable.
It is the court’s general goal to make decisions that are in the “best interests of the child.” Therefore, if a plan is unfair to one parent or if the non-custodial parent repeatedly misses parenting time, the court may need to step in and make changes. It’s in the entire family’s best interests to negotiate a parenting visitation plan that puts the children’s needs first while accommodating the work and personal lives of both parents.
Ronald Graziano of Graziano & Flynn is an experienced divorce lawyer who has helped countless families in South Jersey get through the divorce process. He will assist you in creating a parenting time schedule that works for everyone involved and, most importantly, focuses on the needs of your children. Contact him today for a consultation about your family law matter.