New Jersey courts have long recognized the benefit of the involvement of both parents in the daily lives of their children and tend to favor joint custody when there is a divorce, absent any evidence of abuse or neglect.
Courts today tend to favor a joint custody arrangement, which can be legal, physical, or both. Joint physical custody is where both parents share custody of the child, with the child splitting time living with both parents. Joint legal custody is where both parents share decision-making power on things like education, healthcare, etc.
When developing a joint custody parenting plan, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration, including:
Needs of the children — a child’s needs can vary greatly according to age. An infant or toddler will probably benefit more from the stability of having a primary home, so an arrangement where parents switch off time with children in the same house (called “nesting”) may be beneficial for younger children.
Obligations of the parents — parental work schedules are typically a significant factor in creating workable parenting time schedules.
Distance between households — the difficulty of maintaining equal parenting time increases in proportion to the physical distance between the two households. Maintaining two homes that are far away from each other can place an undue burden on the children.
What the children want — as they get older, children are more likely to want to have a say in the parenting plan and how splitting time affects their lives.
If possible, it is always better for parents to develop a plan together rather than let a judge decide. If your divorce is an amicable one, this will be a lot easier than if it is contentious. However, there are distinct advantages to doing it together. The reality is that you are the ones who know your children best, and you will want to be the ones who have the final say over how all your lives will go on after the divorce is final.
A family law attorney is also helpful in creating a plan that is right for you and your family. While the court will review the parenting plan to make sure it accounts for the best interests of the children, they usually go along with plans that have been agreed to by both parents.
Protecting your interests and achieving results that support your needs is what you can expect from Cistaro Law. Contact us today for your free consultation.