Parenting Time

person wearing winter jacket with young child strapped to their back while walking along pathwayParenting time, formerly known as visitation, refers to the time that the parent who is not primarily living with the children is entitled to see their children. 

Whether a parenting plan is determined by the parents themselves or the courts, it is crucial that any parenting plan be focused on protecting the well-being of the child involved.

Establishing Parenting Time In New York Or New Jersey

A parenting time schedule provides a detailed breakdown of a physical custody arrangement, explaining when the child will be with each parent. A parenting plan is intended to primarily benefit the child but also the parents. Depending on many factors, this could mean parents might have joint or shared custody, one parent could have primary custody and the other a parenting time schedule or there could be some other arrangement. Once a time arrangement has been finalized, the parenting plan can be used to confirm schedules and set guidelines and boundaries for how parents are expected to raise a child.

The schedules and parenting time are agreed upon ahead of time and should be determined based on what is best for the children, and what is feasible for the parents. This agreement can include time set aside on a weekly basis, monthly basis and yearly basis.

Creating A Parenting Time Plan

When creating a plan, parents should consider a number of different factors. These factors can include the following:

  • The child’s age and development level
  • Each parent’s current work schedule and possible vacation time
  • Each parents’ responsibilities before their separation
  • The child’s school location
  • How the child can feel comfortable and cared for at all times
  • Any extracurricular activities
  • The child’s needs

Important Terms To Include In Parenting Time Plans

Parenting plans are most effective when they are specific and detailed. Parents who get along well with one another sometimes want to keep plans general, in the belief that this will provide more flexibility. While maintaining flexibility will serve parents well, enforcement of vague plans often proves to be difficult. 

The best plans are tailored to the needs of an individual family. Among important items to include are the following:

  • A designation of legal and residential custody,
  • A description of the time-sharing arrangement,
  • A description of any changes in time-sharing that will occur during school vacation periods,
  • Provisions addressing birthdays, as well as special holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and traditional or religious family holidays,
  • Provisions addressing transportation,
  • Provisions addressing travel out of the state or out of the country, and
  • A description of access to and sharing arrangements regarding both school and medical records.

Modifying Time Agreements If Necessary

Parents are also able to deviate from their established plan if they wish. There are no rules preventing parents from changing the parenting schedule, switching weeks or weekends, or taking the children on vacation, so long as both parents agree.

If parents cannot agree on significant changes to the plan, or when one party refuses to follow the terms of the agreement, they may need to look to a mediator for help. Certainly it is best if parents can work out their differences between themselves intead of relying on a stranger to determine the future of a family’s parenting plan. Once a couple is able to reach an agreement, or alternatively is unable to and relies on a court to make a decision, a judge will approve the parenting plan or visitation agreement, which has the force of any other court order. Parents who disobey the orders may be cited for contempt and ordered to pay sanctions or fines. If the parent continues to violate the agreement, the court may reduce that parent’s visitation time or even change the custody arrangement entirely.

Enforcing A Parenting Time Order Under New Jersey Custody Laws

At times, a custodial parent may interfere with a parenting time order previously established by the court. In such a situation, the noncustodial parent can file a motion to enforce the order.

The court typically schedules a hearing to examine the need for enforcement. Depending on the circumstances, the court can sanction the custodial parent for failing to comply with the parenting order. This could mean imposing monetary sanctions, such as paying the noncustodial parent’s attorney fees. If interference with parenting time has been persistent and continues, the court can even change custody, making the noncustodial parent the primary custodian of the child.

Berner Law & Mediation Group Can Help Protect Your Parental Rights in New York and New Jersey

At Berner Law & Mediation Group, we know just how important your children are to you, and we are ready to work with you to pursue an arrangement of parenting time that works for you and your children.

We understand that parenting time with loving parents is essential to the healthy development of a child. Our team at Berner Law & Mediation Group will work to protect not only your rights, but the best interests of your children. Call us today to learn more about how we may help you establish parenting time for you and your children.

Schedule an Appointment Today

For further information or to schedule an appointment, contact the Berner Law & Mediation Group.

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