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Family Law: Parenting Time

New Jersey Family Attorneys

Parenting Time (588)

All parents have equal rights to custody and parenting time with their child(ren).

Parents can have different types of custody and parenting time arrangements based on what best suits their children’s needs. The most common type of custody situation is joint legal custody. This means both parties have equal say in the care and upbringing of their child(ren).

But, even in these joint custody situations, there is only one parent that is considered the custodial parent, also known as the parent of primary residence. When one parent is the parent of primary residence, this means that the children reside with one parent most of the time and have parenting time with the other parent.

The parenting time rights of the other parent are usually reached by agreement. The schedule can vary based on the schedules and needs of all parties involved. The court considers a variety of factors in determining the best parenting time schedule for the children. Such factors include the children’s school schedule, the proximity of the parents to one another, the parents’ work schedule, visitation with step-siblings and a variety of other factors.

Parenting time is different from custody; it refers to the amount of time the non-custodial parent will get to spend with the child. For example, a parent who doesn’t have legal or physical custody may still have a right to spend time with his or her child. Parenting time rights are strongly protected by the New Jersey courts and the legislature, which has adopted a policy to assure minor children frequent and continuing contact with both parents. In New Jersey, non-custodial parents have a constitutional right to parent their children. Therefore, absent some extreme circumstances, it’s very difficult to completely terminate visitation rights. It can be very beneficial to consult with an experienced New Jersey family attorney about your situation.

A common problem with parenting time is that one parent fails to comply with the established schedule. As parenting time schedules usually become court orders, a parent who fails or refuses to follow a schedule has disobeyed a court order. If one parent continually violates the parenting time schedule by, for example, refusing to let the other parent see the children during the scheduled times, the court may transfer custody to the parent being denied parenting time rights. However, this result is very harsh and likely reserved for the most extreme cases of violations.

The termination of parental rights severs all legal ties between the parent and the child, including custody and parenting time rights. Because parenting time rights are strongly protected, this harsh outcome is reserved for the most extreme cases. To terminate parental rights, a petition (application) must be filed with the court. The overriding question will be whether termination is in the best interests of the child. The person or agency seeking to terminate parental rights must prove all of the following:

  • the child's health and development have been or will continue to be endangered by the parent
  • the parent is unable or unwilling to eliminate the harm facing the child, or unwilling or unable to provide a safe and stable home for the child
  • attempts have been made to correct the circumstances; and
  • termination will not do more harm than good.

Usually, applications to terminate parental rights is brought by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., our New Jersey family attorneys and divorce lawyers can assist you in getting your visitation rights and/or determining what the best visitation schedule is for you and your children. We approach each case with the unique attention and care that it deserves.



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