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Child custody arrangements in New Jersey

In New Jersey, parents who are going through a divorce often have questions about child custody and how it is determined by the courts. Ideally, the courts prefer to see parents work out an arrangement that is acceptable to all parties involved, but this is not always possible. When the parents are unable to create an arrangement on their own, the courts will step in. The first step is for each party to submit a Custody and Parenting Time or Visitation Plan for the courts to consider.

The plan should include the specific schedule desired by the party, including where the child will be on weeknights, weekends, holidays, and other special occasions. The plan should clearly state if the parent is seeking joint legal custody with primary residential care, joint physical custody, sole custody, or some other arrangement. Additionally, the plan should also include the addresses and employment of the parties, access to school medical records, whether there will be participation regarding making decisions for the child and any other pertinent information.

After reviewing the plans submitted by each party, the court will consider the information and rule on the matter. The court will outline the official child custody arrangements, child support requirements and other details. Once the provisions are finalized by the court, it must be followed by both parties. Failure to comply may lead to dismissal of requests for sanctions or pleadings submitted by the non-compliant party.

Whether a custody arrangement is designed by the parents or customized by the courts, it is important for both parents to abide by the details laid out by the court. Any deviations from the plan must be approved by the courts. An attorney can help guide parents through the development of the initial plan and any requests for adjustments later.

Source: New Jersey Courts, "5:8-5. Custody and Parenting Time/Visitation Plans, Recital in Judgment or Order", October 21, 2014

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