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Parenting Plans and Child Custody Arrangements in New Jersey

For mediation clients who have children, the Parenting Plan is the first of the four major areas covered during divorce mediation. Parenting Plans are discussed and decided in conjunction with the subject areas of (1) Equitable Distribution, (2) Spousal Support / Alimony and (3) Child Support. Information determined during the parenting plan phase, specifically in the area of residency and child custody, is also used in conjunction with the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines to determine an appropriate child support amount. It is with that in mind that these important decisions are made early on in the mediation process.

Parenting plans / Child Custody can vary from highly flexible to highly detailed and any points in-between depending on the couple's particular situation. In situations where the couple has an open line of communication, the parenting plan is more of a general outline that will be used to manage the growth and development of the child as well as the basic rules surrounding the parenting arrangements agreed upon in mediation. For higher conflict couples, the parenting plan will be much more detailed and can attempt to outline every detail regarding parenting but couples must keep in mind that even the best parenting plan is no substitute for good parenting. Your child's well-being and success in future years relies heavily on your ability to communicate as adults and put the needs of your child first.

Issues to Consider When Developing a Parenting Plan

  • Residence: Whose home will be designated the "primary residence" for the child(ren)?
  • Regular Weekly Schedule: What is the pattern of time your child(ren) will spend with each of you during an ordinary week?
  • Holiday and Vacation Schedules: How will your child(ren)'s time be arranged for on School or Religious holidays or Summer vacations?
  • Transportation: Who will be responsible for transportation of the child(ren) between your homes?
  • Health: Who will make medical decisions on behalf of your child?
  • Education: Who will make decisions regarding school placements, special programs, acceleration or retention?
  • Religion: What responsibilities will each of you have for the religious education of your child(ren)?
  • Emergency Plans: What will be done if there is a last minute change in a parent's schedule?
  • Other Communication: How will regular communication between each of you regarding your child(ren) occur?

These are just a handful of the many issues that are outlined in a parenting plan and child custody arrangement in New Jersey. As every family's circumstances are unique, it is always best to consult with a mediator who can help you and your spouse consider all the issues involved and help both of you develop an appropriate parenting plan for your child or children. With that in mind, please note this document is intended to give a general overview of the subject matter and not to provide any specific legal advice.

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