A New Jersey parenting plan sets forth the physical custody arrangements between the children's two parents. An effective and successful parenting plan protects the best interests of your children and helps to foster a spirit of cooperation between former spouses. Developing a parenting plan is an incredibly important part of protecting the health and well-being of your children, as well as saving yourself from difficulty.
If you and your soon-to-be former spouse have children, an experienced New Jersey custody attorney can protect both your and your children's rights. This can be a difficult process, but you do not need to face it alone.
Creating a New Jersey Parenting Plan
If parents are granted joint custody as part of their divorce, a parenting plan helps to outline the responsibilities of each of the parents as it relates to the children. The point of a parenting plan is to create a system that both parents are able to follow and works to further the best interests of the children. An effective plan can save the cost of litigation over the details, as well as prevent the frustration that fighting with your former spouse brings.
Creating a plan requires open communication and negotiation with your former or soon to be former spouse. This is best effectuated with a knowledgeable attorney at your side who can make sure the agreement complies with New Jersey law and is made in such a way that it will likely be accepted by the court.
What a Parenting Plan Does
A parenting plan helps to make sure that the parents of the children understand their responsibilities including, but not limited to:
- physical custody
- responsibilities of parenting
A parenting plan sets out, in detail, methods for resolving disputes as well as the specific responsibility assigned to each parent.
The Other Parent Won't Agree - What Do I Do?
When parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, more difficulty can arise. Ultimately, it will be up to the New Jersey court to decide what is in the best interests of the children. If you cannot agree, the court will impose upon you both a parenting plan it thinks is best. It will not take your needs and wants into consideration as much as if you were able to negotiate a plan with the other parent.
Sometimes, it may be that the parents can agree to some or even most of the details of the plan, but not all. When this occurs, the details of the parenting plan that you do both agree to can be put down and suggested to the court. For anything that remains, and cannot be negotiated between the parties, the court will have to decide upon. Typically, you will submit a proposal for the court's consideration.
When parents are unable to agree to a parenting plan, an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer can help to develop a plan to suggest to the judge that will protect both your interests and those of your children.
Contents of a New Jersey Parenting Plan
When parents have joint custody, New Jersey courts generally require a suggested parenting plan be submitted. This can be an agreed plan or separate proposals. Even with an agreed plan, the court will analyze the contents of it to determine if it fits the best interests of the children.
A New Jersey parenting plan can include such terms as:
- child custody decisions
- legal custody concerns
- physical custody concerns
- childcare rules and specifications
- scheduling issues related to custody, visitations, and care of the children
- details concerning the children's education
- details about religious involvement
- holiday time schedule
- decisions about healthcare and payment
- directions on how to communicate with the other parent
- transportation arrangements, such as pick-ups from school or activities
- vacation schedules
- a procedure for dispute resolution
The more detailed the parenting plan is, the better it is in most cases. While it is hard to plan for every eventuality, being proactive in creating a plan that can work for everyone involved is beneficial to both parties, and the children.
What to Consider in Drafting Your Plan
In creating a parenting plan, the parents and their attorneys should consider:
- how the parents divided child responsibilities before the divorce
- school locations and calendars
- the ages of the children
- any special needs the children may have
- extra-curricular activities
- how extended family interactions are treated
- the parent's work schedules
- financial responsibilities and division of costs
Knowing exactly what to think about in a plan is not a thing most people have a lot of experience with. An experienced New Jersey custody attorney does and can put that knowledge to work for you.
Mediation - Negotiating a Parenting Plan
Mediation can be a useful tool in negotiating with the other parent when trying to agree on a parenting plan. Mediation uses a neutral third party, the mediator, who speaks with both parties in order to foster agreement between them. The mediator will speak with the parties separately at times, and together at other times. He or she will attempt to encourage agreement where possible.
The mediator does this by finding areas of agreement, and finding out what each party desires most in a shared parenting plan. He or she can find common ground to create compromise. Mediators, together with your attorney, often have an uncanny ability to resolve conflicts that seemed insurmountable before. There is great power in using a neutral party to help negotiate an agreement.
Consult a New Jersey Custody Attorney
A parenting plan is a very important part of your divorce, as well as your future post-divorce life. Not only can it protect your rights as a parent, but it will better protect the rights of all of your children as well. It can help resolve conflicts that arise and set guidelines for the parties to follow. This can save you from having to go back to court to argue over disputes regarding the children.
If you and your spouse are getting a divorce, or need help dealing with your former spouse, experienced New Jersey custody lawyer Joseph D. Lento can help with your case. Contact us today for a consultation of your case, or call at 888-535-3686.