Custodial vs. Non-Custodial Parent
What is the difference between a custodial and non-custodial parent in the State of New Jersey? Custodial parent is the parent that has the children more than 50% of the time. The custodial parent is usually with the children much more than the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent sees the children when that parent has parenting or visitation time. The non-custodial parent pays child support which is a tax free amount of money the custodial parent uses to help care for the children.
When can the non-custodial parent see his or her child?
Both parents can agree to a certain schedule, the court can order a schedule, or it can be left liberally between the parties. It is my belief that the more specific the better in order to prevent issues with holidays, weekends and so forth which can easily escalate. In Hudson County, Judges: Severiano Lisboa, Adam Jacobs, Daniel D'Alessandro, Maureen Sogluizzo, Marybeth Rogers, and Joseph Charles handle child custody and parenting time among other family law issues in Hudson County, New Jersey. In Essex County, Judges: Nancy Sivilli, Michael Casale, Donald Kessler, Cathy Wasserman, and James Troiano, focus on family law issues and is not enough to handle the heavy Essex County docket.
What are the factors used to determine how much time a parent should have with their child?
In New Jersey, "the best interests of the child" Sacharow v. Sacharow is what determines parenting time, but what is that exactly? There is no easy answer to what is in the best interests of the child but it could be said that with two loving parents, the more each parent sees and speaks with the child, the better. However, unfortunately, both parents do not agree that one parent is a positive influence or that the non-custodial parent should have limited access. Judges will consider the following factors including but not limited to: The age of the child, the living conditions of both parties, whom if anyone else but the parent resides in the home, the work schedule of the parties, the mental health of the parties, the preference of the child if of age and beyond. Some Judges and attorneys try to force the every other weekend visitation schedule on the non-custodial parent which is not right if that parent wants more time. The presumption in New Jersey is 50%/50%.
What if the custodial parent refuses to allow me to see my child?
The custodial parent is not the boss, the law is. The law is clear, the custodial parent has an obligation to try to foster a relationship with the non-custodial parent. This does not mean the custodial parent has to do all the pick up and drop offs, it does not mean the custodial parent has to force the non-custodial parent to see the children, it takes two to tango. If you have a court order, bring a motion to enforce litigants rights. If you do not have a court order, bring a motion to obtain a set schedule for parenting time.
What if I arrive one hour late to pick up my child?
Time. Time. Time. Everyone's time is important. You must respect other people's time if you want your time to be respected. Usually a court gives people 30-45 minutes to comply or risk losing that parenting time on that day. If you are late at least call and try to contact the other side, be courteous.If you arrive on time and the custodial parent does not give you the child, try to file a police report and/or an incident report for proof to show the Judge.
How to prevent my child around the custodial parent's new significant other/friends?
Some people believe you cannot restrict who the child is around when the custodial or non-custodial parent has visitations, this is wrong. The court cares about the child first and foremost. If the court believes that either parent is surrounding the child with people that can negatively affect the child, a Judge can order that those people not be permitted near the child and can even suspend visitations. Remember the court is focused on the needs of the child above all.
Does it matter if I was married to the mother of my children in parenting time cases?
The Judge wants to know the history of the parties for the reason of knowing how much both parents were involved with the child since the child's birth. This does not mean that if you were not around for six months and the child is six months old that you cannot see your child, however the Court will most likely order limited visits that will be increased over time. If the parties are married and both parents were there from day one and a divorce occurs when the child is four, the Judge may be more inclined to order more parenting time.
Visitation/Parenting Time and Child Support
With more parenting time comes more expenses for the non-custodial parent and less child support payable to the custodial parent. The child support guidelines address the amount of parenting time each party has, health insurance paid, if the child has his or her own space, etc. The guidelines use a sole parenting worksheet or dual parenting worksheet.