If you're the "custodial parent" of your child, then he or she will spend the majority of time living with you in your home. If you're the "noncustodial parent," then you will likely receive regular child visitation rights. In other situations, both parents could be custodial parents and the child will live with both parents.
A New Jersey child custody and visitation schedule is where you will codify the rules and guidelines that surround these arrangements. When appropriately drafted, your plan will contain the following three areas:
1. The residential schedule
The residential schedule will indicate what days of the week and what times the child will be with each parent. For example, the residential schedule could be an every-other-three-day-weekend schedule, in which the child spends a long weekend living with the noncustodial parent every other week. Or, it might be an every-other-week or perhaps an every-other-three-day equal parenting split.
2. The holiday and special dates schedule
There will be special times of the year that require a deviation from the normal parenting schedule. For example, holidays will require a plan in advance so that the parents know with whom the child will be on specific holidays. A plan should also be made for birthdays and special occasions.
3. The vacation schedule
There will also be school vacations that parents need to plan for, such as summer, winter and spring break. Within the vacation schedule, parents should include instructions for how the parents can take the children out of school for a week or so if they desire a special family vacation that doesn't match the usual school vacation days.
What is best for the child when creating a custody and visitation schedule?
Because parents will have a lot of options and flexibility during the creation of their child custody and visitation plans, they may want to review other common arrangements that New Jersey parents make. Ultimately, the best for the child will be a custody plan that provides frequent and regular contact with both parents. This will best support the child's emotional growth and development.