A parenting plan outlines how both parents will stay involved in their children’s lives after separation or divorce.
New Jersey Courts have issued a guide to help parents develop a parenting plan.
Who develops the plan?
A family court can propose a plan, but you may find it more sustainable if you and your ex work together to develop one. If you cannot agree on terms, you can meet with a family court mediator or engage a private mediator.
After you and your co-parent have created a plan, you must file it with the court.
What does a typical plan cover?
A parenting plan supports communication between you and your former partner. This allows you to make joint decisions concerning matters important to your children’s well-being. Key co-parenting decisions may cover financial support, education, religion and health care.
A plan should also address parenting time and allow both parents to have ongoing contact with their children. Your children’s individual developmental needs factor into a good plan.
Infants require predictable schedules and routines. While the residential parent will determine an infant’s basic daily schedule, both parents should have the opportunity to feed, diaper and bathe the child. As young children are unable to verbalize their needs, parents must communicate about issues important to their children’s health and safety.
Preschoolers also enjoy predictability but may be more adaptable to schedule changes. As children get older, both parents will want to participate in school, church and extracurricular activities. Children should also enjoy overnight stays with the non-residential parent. If your children are teens, invite them to join discussions of what parenting time looks like.
You and your co-parent must be practical and flexible. While you may initially find it challenging to have a schedule, you can build trust among family members if you follow the plan.