Perhaps the most important, difficult task in settling a divorce is creating a parenting agreement. Divorce can be incredibly contentious and disruptive. People who can’t even agree on who gets the TV are bound to have a much harder time agreeing on who gets the kids.
A parenting agreement is a document that sets forth the guidelines for each parent’s involvement with the child’s upbringing. It outlines parental responsibilities, visitation schedule, healthcare information, and other matters vital to raising children.
A parenting agreement is an essential part of divorce. When children are involved, the court’s main priority is to protect children’s interests and ensure their well-being. The state of New Jersey considers both parents equal in their rights and responsibilities towards their children, and a good parenting agreement reflects that.
The parenting agreement should include information about who has legal and physical custody of children, and their primary place of residence. It should include a reasonable and realistic parenting schedule, and may also contain child support agreements, medical information (health insurance, pediatrician, medications, etc.), school pick-up and drop-off times, extracurricular activities, who will claim children as dependents on tax returns, how special days like holidays and birthdays are to be spent, guidelines for how children will be raised, and a plan for modifying the agreement or dealing with disputes.
It’s important that parents set aside differences to craft an agreement that is in the best interest of their children. The court will approve any mutually agreed upon plan, provided it doesn’t harm the child or go against the child’s best interests.
If the parents cannot put aside their differences enough to create a sound parenting agreement, the court may come up with one. Parents may also file a motion to meet with a Family Court Mediator to work out an agreement, if they are unable to do so on their own, or leave the matter to their attorneys to settle.
It’s important that both parents respect and stick to the parenting agreement. Children benefit from having an established, predictable routine, so it’s important for their well-being. Moreover, it is illegal in New Jersey for one parent to deprive a child of court-mandated parenting time with the other parent. If one parent attempts to interfere with the other’s parenting time, and the issue cannot be resolved through communication or mediation, an incident report or criminal complaint for visitation interference may be filed.
If you need help in crafting or negotiating an effective parenting agreement, call our office at 856-227-7888 for a free consultation. We are happy to help you find a way to do what is best for your children.
The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.