Creating a workable parenting plan when your marriage is about to end is crucial. A detailed, viable plan can ensure that your parenting rights are protected and that the needs of your children are met.
By law, all New Jersey child custody and parenting plans must be in the best interests of the child. A qualified NJ child custody lawyer who understands the laws involved can help you create a document that achieves this goal.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
Once the basic custody decision is selected, a parenting plan must be created to meet the needs of the parents and, most importantly, the child. A parenting plan is a schedule that specifies when the child will be with each parent. The plan should be as specific as possible to avoid future problems.
What to Include in the Document
It is important to include as many issues as possible that may later be contentious if not addressed ahead of time.
One of the most basic decisions will be how the weekdays and weekends will be divided. Plans vary widely, but most include some weekend and vacation time so that each parent gets to spend quality time with the child.
It is also a good idea to agree ahead of time on how the child will be exchanged. For example, will each deliver the child to the other’s home or will another arrangement be made?
Holidays and Vacations
How holidays and vacations are handled should also be part of the plan:
- religious holidays;
- Thanksgiving and other national holidays;
- Mother’s Day and Father’s Day;
- the child’s birthday;
- each parent’s birthday;
- summer vacation;
- school breaks; and
- other special events.
Factors to Consider
These factors should be considered when crafting a viable parenting plan:
- each parent’s work schedule;
- the distance between the parents’ homes;
- the location of the child’s school;
- the child’s school schedule;
- the child’s relationship with his or her extended families;
- the child’s extracurricular activities;
- the child’s social needs;
- child care, if necessary;
- the child’s medical needs; and
- and other special concerns.
Children’s Needs Change
A plan that suits a preschooler will not be appropriate for an elementary or high-school student. As your child gets older, he or she might want to go to school dances, participate in school trips, attend friends’ parties, and take part in the many social opportunities that arise.
Some of these new activities might interfere with your or your ex’s parenting time. If these issues are addressed in your plan, then they are less likely to cause conflict.
Modifications of New Jersey Custody Arrangements and Parenting Plans
New Jersey parenting plans may be modified if there is a change in circumstance.
In order to modify an existing parenting plan, it is necessary to show that the proposed change would be in the best interests of the child.
Modification is easy if both parents agree to a consent order. Like a court order, a consent order is legally binding.
If there is disagreement, then the party wanting the change must file a motion with the court. The motion must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstance.
Change in Circumstance
These are among the changes in circumstance that might be cited in a motion to modify a child custody or parenting plan:
- a parent’s change in residence;
- a parent’s change in job or work hours;
- a change in the child’s educational or health needs; and
- a change in the child’s extracurricular and social needs.
If the court deems that the requested change would benefit the child, then it will grant the motion. On the other hand, if the court decides that the modification would not be in the best interests of the child, it will not grant it.
Contact a Qualified New Jersey Child Custody and Visitation Lawyer
If you need a child custody or parenting agreement or if you want a modification to your existing plan, then you should obtain the advice of an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney who understands NJ child custody laws and can ensure that your rights are protected and the needs of your child are met.
This is also true if your ex has called for a modification of an existing plan and you do not believe the change would be in the best interests of your child.
Do you have questions about child custody, parenting plans, or modification agreements? The experienced divorce and family law attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., can help. For an initial consultation, call us 24/7 at 800-537-4154.