Divorce With Children: Making Custody Decisions That Work

  • April 23, 2012

    Adults who divorce eventually move on.  But studies have shown that when parents fight, children may suffer long term effects.  The last thing you want for your children is to have them brought to court so a judge can interview them or have them sent to one or more specialists for an evaluation.  Parents can avoid putting their children in the middle.  They can make joint decisions about custody and parenting time with the help of a mediator or collaborative lawyer.

    In New Jersey, most couples share joint legal custody of their children after a divorce. This means that they commit to making joint decisions about the health, education and welfare of their children.  This includes decisions about their healthcare, their schooling, religious upbringing and college. 

    Similarly, in New Jersey most couples share physical custody of their children in a structured arrangement.  The parent who has the children more than 50% of the time is called the Parent of Primary Residence.  The other parent becomes the Parent of Alternate Residence.  Each parent makes day-to-day and minor decisions for the children when they have the children.

    Parenting arrangements vary from  family to family.  Children often live with one parent during the week and are with the other parent on alternate week-ends and sometimes on one or two nights during the week as well.   Parents who reside near each other after the divorce may have a more flexible arrangement during the week.  Most parents alternate or share major holidays and set aside at least two weeks during the summer to spend with their children.  Some parents share equal parenting time on alternate weeks, but this is less common.

    No one size fits all.  The key is for the parents to actively work with their mediator or collaborative attorneys to structure a parenting arrangment that is workable for them and appropriate for their children.  Cooperation is the key.  The children will mirror that cooperation, accepting a two-home arrangement as a part of their routine. The ultimate schedule will be incorporated into a Settlement Agreement and, if the parties divorce, will become part of their Judgment of Divorce. 

    Parents are free to adjust the schedule as the children grow and mature.  This, too, can be accomplished at the mediation or collaborative table through cooperation, thereby saving financial and emotional resources and maintaining a peaceful life for their children.

    For more information about mediation and Collaborative Practice, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or risa@rkleinerlaw.com

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