New Jersey Custody and Visitation Schedules
Your child custody and visitation schedule is important to you and to your child. Here's how to set up a New Jersey visitation schedule.
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
The New Jersey Permanent Statutes contains the laws pertaining to child custody and visitation in the State of New Jersey.
Becoming familiar with the family and domestic laws of the state can be beneficial when creating a child visitation schedule, for it will enable you to create a schedule in accordance with the law, which will increase your chances for a successful outcome in your child custody case.
Title 9, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, of the New Jersey Permanent Statutes contains the laws and relevant information that will assist you in creating an effective child visitation schedule.
In the State of New Jersey, both parents are considered to be equally important and have equal rights to be in a child's life, and it is the policy of the state to ensure a child has frequent, continuing contact with both parents after a separation or divorce (NJPS 9:2-4).
The court may award an order for joint custody, sole custody, or any other custodial arrangement the court deems appropriate.
- Joint custody means that legal custody of the child is to be shared between both parents.
- The physical custody of the child can either be shared between the parents in an equitable manner, or the child may reside solely with one parent, depending on the appropriateness of the situation and the needs of the child.
- If one parent is a primary physical custodian, the other parent shall have reasonable visitation rights and adequate parenting time.
- Sole custody means one parent has both legal and physical custody of the child, while the other parent may, or may not, be entitled to parenting time and visitation. The courts may deny visitation and/or contact with the child if a parent is abusive or poses a danger to the child.
You will need to decide what type of custody you are going to have before creating your custody and visitation schedule in order to a schedule that coincides with your custody arrangements.
A child visitation schedule in the State of New Jersey should contain:
- A residential schedule that specifies the days and time the child will spend time with each parent
- A schedule for holidays and special occasions
- A vacation schedule or provisions for vacation time that allows the child extended time with each parent during school breaks and the parent's personal vacation time
You can start by examining the schedules and availability of each of you and constructing a schedule that will best meet your child's needs while providing your child with the optimal amount of quality time with each parent.
Many courts have "set schedules" they order in cases where the parents cannot or will not agree but you are free to create a schedule that is as unique as your child is.
As long as the best interests of the child are being met, any schedule that meets your child's needs is a good one.
Promoting the child's best interests and the safety of the child are fundamental concerns of the court and the ultimate determinants when ruling on child custody and visitation (NJPS 9:3-37).
Some of the factors the court considers when determining the best interests of a child include, but are not limited to (NJPS 9:2-4c):
- The parents' willingness and ability to communicate effectively and cooperate with each other on matters related to the child
- The wishes of the parents as to the custody of the child and each parent's willingness to accept custody
- Whether or not there has been a history of a parent's unwillingness to allow parenting time to occur, so long as the prevention was not based upon abuse
- The bonds and relationships between the child and each parent and any siblings
- Whether or not there is any history of domestic violence, and if so, whether or not the domestic violence is likely to present a danger to the safety of the child or the other parent
- The wishes of the child as to custody, provided the child is old enough and has the capacity to make a mature decision
- The needs of the child and whether or not a parent is able to meet those needs
- The safety, security, and stability of an offered home environment
- The quality of the child's education and whether or not disrupting or continuing the educational situation would have an adverse or positive effect on the child
- The moral fitness of the parents
- The geographical proximity of the parents' home to each other and the child's school
- The amount of time each parent spent with the child prior to and after the separation, and the nature, quality, and extent of that time
- The employment schedules and responsibilities of the parents
- The age of the child and the number of children the parents have
- Any potentially negative conduct of a parent shall not be considered unless that conduct would have a substantially negative effect on the child
The best way to make sure your parenting time schedule will be approved by the court is to work with the other parent to create it. The court will accept and approve any agreement submitted by the parents, as long as it is not contrary to the child's best interests (NJPS 9:2-4d).
If you are unable to reach an agreement, each of you will have to submit your own proposed plan for the court to consider. The court will review your proposed schedules and but may create one entirely different.
You will be legally obligated to follow the schedule provided to you so it is imperative to make every effort to work together and create one on your own.
The top twenty cities in New Jersey (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, Toms River, Trenton, Camden, Brick Township, Clifton, Cherry Hill, Passaic, East Orange, Union City, Vineland, Bayonne, Irvington, North Bergen, Wayne, Union.