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Establishing a parenting plan during a divorce

During a divorce, it is often best for children when parents form an arrangement that allows both parents to spend time with the children. When a couple in New Jersey dissolves their relationship, a parenting plan details issues concerning raising a child and sets a schedule for when each parent has contact with the child. These plans sometimes outline the abilities each parent has in regards to health care, decision-making, education, financial support and religious upbringing. While the schedule in the parenting plan will be influenced by each parent's work obligations and by school activities and holidays, parents should also consider what a child needs based on his or her age.

Infants need a consistent routine, so both parents should follow the same pattern for a child's waking and sleeping cycles, which includes routines for baths, bedtime and feeding. Preschoolers can handle some variations in a routine, and a basic schedule that includes overnight or weekend visits with the non-residential parent may provide sufficient consistency.

When establishing parenting time for school age children, parents may need to work around activities like sports, band, clubs and choir. The parenting plan should be woven into a child's schedule so it becomes part of a fluid routine along with the child's activities. Similarly, teens will also have outside commitments but are able to discuss a potential plan with parents.

Custody is an important part of any divorce involving children, so forming and implementing a parenting plan can be difficult. Multiple issues can also be associated with child custody like child support, relocation and visitation rights. A court may make a ruling when parents cannot come to an agreement, and one might want to have the representation of an attorney when appearing in court or deciding upon mediation or negotiations.

Source: judiciary.state.nj.us, "Parenting Time: A Child's Right", October 19, 2014

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