parenting plan

Archives

Archive for the ‘Final Judgment of Divorce’ Category

COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT A PARENTING PLAN

Posted by

A parenting plan is undoubtedly one of the most emotional parts of working toward a full Marital Settlement Agreement. Many parents may fear that their time will be unfairly restricted. Knowing what to expect before beginning to develop a plan will ease stress and help lead to a fair agreement that is in the best interest of the children and fair to each parent.

TYPE OF CUSTODY AND REASON FOR SELECTION

parenting planThe first major decision to be made when entering into a parenting plan is the type of custody. Naturally, most parents would like as much time as possible with their children while still ensuring they have liberal access to the other parent. Types of custody include: sole legal and physical custody, joint legal and physical custody, joint legal custody with one parent designated the Parent of Primary Residence (PPR) and the other the Parent of Alternative Residence (PAR).

Before discussing this with your spouse or attorney it is wise to take some time to gather your thoughts and set your expectations. What is the current parenting situation? Has one parent been the primary caregiver? How will your schedule (and your spouse’s) change after the divorce? What are the children’s expectations?

Once you have answered these types of questions, set real expectations. For example, if both parents have been equally involved in parenting thus far, joint legal and physical custody is a likely outcome. Give yourself an idea of what you are willing to compromise on. When you feel ready, discuss your expectations with your spouse and mediator or attorney. You and your spouse may be on the same page, and if not your divorce mediator or attorney will guide you through the process of settlement.

RESIDENTIAL SCHEDULE, HOLIDAYS, AND VACATIONS parenting time schedule

This schedule is necessary to determine where the children will reside each day of the year, what contact they will have with each parent, and how the pick up and drop off will work. A typical residential schedule will set forth the parenting time of the PAR, which may include alternate weekends and weekly dinner visits. It is important to agree upon exact start and end times for the parenting time in the plan; however, these times can be changed upon verbal or written agreement of both parents. In the event that one parent is not adhering to the agreement, the executed parenting plan will be followed.

Other issues to be addressed include school and social events, activities, camps, sporting and extracurricular events, transportation, and delays in pick up and drop off. In this section you may also address the use of childcare and babysitters during the custodial parenting time and how to proceed with introducing the child to a serious significant other.

Regardless of the custody arrangement, children should have liberal access to both parents via telephone or video calls when appropriate. Decide upon what time and how often calls may be allowed.

HOLIDAYS

The comprehensive parenting plan will also set forth the detailed schedule for Holidays. Each parent will have odd or even years to spend with the child for each holiday, school break, and the child’s birthday. This can be negotiated with your spouse if you wish to have parenting time every year on a certain holiday. Holidays must be defined with start and end times; for instance, Christmas Eve may be defined as 4pm to noon on Christmas day. Make sure to tell your mediator or attorney about all the holidays you celebrate.

VACATIONS

The parenting plan will usually discuss the vacation time each parent is entitled to. The allotted vacation time is personal to each parent. The parenting plan will lay out details such as informing one another of itineraries, phone contact, and obtaining the child’s passport. With the consent of both parties’ additional vacation time may be taken even after the agreement is in effect.

MEDICAL AND SCHOOL RECORDS

Unless otherwise agreed upon, the parenting plan will entitle both parents to all medical and school information. This includes any information, documents, and communication from the child’s pediatrician, general physician, dentist, specialist, counselor, consultant attending the child, or reports or communication from any teacher or school giving instruction to the child.

DECISION MAKING

parenting time This is usually broken down into two categories: day-to-day and major decisions. It is highly likely that your parenting plan will give the authority of day-to-day decisions to the parent with whom the child is residing that day. Major decisions such as those involving health, education, religion, and other important matters will almost always require consulting with one another in a joint custody arrangement, regardless of whether one parent has been given the right to make the final decision if an agreement cannot be made. The procedure for emergency decisions should also be discussed to minimize future conflict.

Familiarizing yourself with what a parenting plan entails will help you move through the divorce mediation or litigation journey with less stress. Children are the most important part of any divorce and their best interests should always be put first.

UNCONTESTED DIVORCE HEARING IN NJ

Posted by

new jersey uncontested divorce hearingFor those going through or considering divorce the stress of litigation and court dates can weigh heavy on the mind; however, only 2% t0 3% of cases do not settle out of court and half of these settle either before or at trial. Once settled the other 97% to 98% of divorce cases end with a uncontested divorce hearing in NJ. Although the judge and attorneys (in litigated divorce) will be present, the process is relatively short and stress free.

Property Settlement Agreement 

In order for a divorce case to settle the parties must reach a mutual agreement. All cases are unique which means that the time it takes to reach this agreement is different for each couple. Equitable distribution and child custody/parenting time, if applicable, must be addressed. Equitable distribution includes the marital home, vacation homes and timeshares, tangible personal property, cars, bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, credit card debt, income tax liabilities and any other property or assets not exempt under NJ law. In some situations experts are required to perform a valuation or assets or a custody and parenting time evaluation, further delaying the process. Parties may also find that one or both of them is not emotionally ready to settle the case and will delay the process until they have accepted the end of the marriage.

Once all of the issues have been explored and the case is ready for settlement, a contract stating the terms of the marital agreement is drafted by a NJ divorce attorney, divorce mediator or the parties themselves. This is known as a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA). The PSA should be tailored to cover the fact of the case and address all relevant issues of the marriage. This document will be binding so careful consideration should be given to its language and provisions. Future amendments of the PSA will require the consent of both parties or the filing of a motion in Court.

Uncontested Divorce Hearing in NJ

Once the PSA is carefully reviewed, approved and signed the divorce is ready to be finalized. A Complaint for Divorce stating the legal cause of action must be filed by one party. The most common cause of action in NJ, especially in uncontested divorce, is irreconcilable differences. If the PSA has been executed, the other party may waive the right to file an Answer for Divorce and the right to appear at the uncontested divorce hearing in NJ. In this case, the Plaintiff (the party who filed the Complaint for Divorce) will be scheduled to appear before a NJ Superior Court Judge and an uncontested divorce will be granted. The Judge will sign a Final Judgment of Divorce, legally dissolving the marriage and both parties will be bound by the terms of the PSA.

Mediation for Uncontested Divorce

Successful divorce mediation always ends with an uncontested divorce hearing in NJ. The process is cost-effective for couples who are open to settlement and are emotionally able to directly discuss the divorce with one another. The more ready parties are to settle, the less time they will need to attend mediation, thus lowered the cost of the divorce. Both parties must be present and willing to participate in all mediation sessions.

The divorce mediator guides the parties toward reaching a settlement and acts as a neutral party. Some cases may require the assistance of experts such as accountants or psychologists. Each party has the right to consult with their own attorney to review the PSA before signing; however, this attorney must not be from the same firm as the divorce mediator.