A Law Firm Providing Experienced Guidance In Child Custody Matters
At South Jersey Divorce Solutions, we strive to provide a range of divorce options to help clients reach favorable divorce solutions. Solutions are critical when it comes to the most important people in a divorce – your children. Each family is unique and requires an individualized custody plan. In coming up with a solution, we focus on what works best for your family, not on what is easy or what everyone else does.
We also know that in custody matters, the outcome isn’t the only consideration. The process also matters greatly. If custody proceedings are highly contentious, adversarial and stressful, the children will be directly or indirectly impacted. For this and other reasons, our firm provides numerous alternatives to traditional litigation, including reaching an agreement through mediation or through the collaborative divorce process.
Types Of Child Custody In New Jersey
There are two different types of custody – physical and legal. Here’s what they involve:
- Legal custody – This is the decision-making. Legal custody involves the major decisions with regards to the care and upbringing of a child such as medical, educational and religious issues.
- Physical custody – This is where the child resides. Parents may be designated as parent of primary residence or parent of alternate residence.
Some couples are able to develop a parenting plan where they share physical and legal custody equally. In other cases, parents will share custody unequally or one parent may have sole custody.
In some custody cases, one parent is trying to establish their right to custody, such as where the parents were never married or they are a same-sex couple where there is only one biological parent. Each couple’s custody arrangement must be based on the best interests of the children. A well-designed custody arrangement and parenting plan will allow the parents to have clearly defined roles and schedules to address the parenting of their children.
What Is Included In A Parenting Plan?
Parenting plans can include as much or as little information as both parties need to help them successfully co-parent. By developing a carefully considered and detailed plan, parents are less likely to have conflicts or confusion as to what is expected. Creating a detailed plan also allows the children to have greater certainty as to when they will see each of their parents. The typical parenting plan may include:
- Determination of custody (legal, physical, shared or sole)
- Schedule for each parent’s time with the children
- A holiday schedule
- A vacation schedule
- Details regarding things like camp and day care
- Care and notification in event of Illness
- Extra-curricular activities
- Transportation arrangements and schedules
- Decisions regarding education, religious upbringing, medical care, and other major aspects of parenting (this can include decisions already reached or instructions for how to resolve disputes over these issues)
- Additional information as needed
While each parenting plan can and should be customized, there are standards of behavior and expectations that need to be maintained in order to protect the well-being of children and facilitate better cooperation between co-parents. We discuss these in greater detail on our parenting rules and guidelines page.
What If Parents Cannot Agree To A Parenting Plan?
Of course, it is best if you and your child’s other parent can work out a plan through negotiation. Before the matter goes before the judge, the court will require a couple to see if they can resolve the issues of custody and parenting time with the assistance of a mediator. If the couple is unable to resolve all of the outstanding issues through mediation, the court will then schedule a hearing or trial. If this happens in your case, we will fight to protect your relationship with your child.
Following the hearing/trial, the court will create a parenting plan for the couple. Courts will consider the best interests of the child regarding his/her needs and well-being in setting the order determining custody and parenting time. In making the decision, a judge will consider the factors listed within N.J.S.A 9:2-4(c). These include:
- The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate with one another regarding the child
- The willingness of each parent to accept custody
- Whether a parent has prevented the other parent from having parenting time, except in cases where there is substantiated abuse
- The relationship the child has with his/her parents and siblings
- The history of domestic violence (if any)
- The safety of the child from physical abuse
- The safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent
- If the child is old enough and mature enough to make an intelligent decision, the preference of the child
- The home(s) of each of the parents
- The educational needs of the child and the ability of the parents to meet those needs
- The fitness of each parent
- The location/proximity of the parents’ homes to one another
- The extent of time the child spent before the divorce or separation with each parent
- Each parent’s employment responsibilities
- The age and number of children
After applying all of the factors listed above, the judge will make a determination of custody and parenting time for the children. This will be set out in an order that will be binding on all of the parties. An experienced family law lawyer can help you to create a parenting plan that makes sense for you and your family.
Schedule An Initial Consultation Today
The attorneys at South Jersey Divorce Solutions have experience in helping individuals and couples create parenting plans that fit their needs and goals, being mindful of the best interests of the children. If you would like to discuss custody and parenting plans, call the office at 856-499-8061 or send us an email to schedule an appointment.
No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.