Last week we posted about the Parents’ Education Program which is one of the ways the New Jersey Courts help parents who are going through a divorce or separation address custody and parenting time issues. The Parents’ Education Program provides parents with an introduction to the Court system and to the concepts connected with how to successfully make one household into two.  Few issues are as emotionally charged as those dealing with children.  The New Jersey Courts not only recognize this but offer parents Custody and Parenting Time Mediation to help them to control their own future and that of the children.  It is generally accepted that families are happier if they are the ones making the plans.  Custody and Parenting Time Mediation give the parties not only the opportunity to do make the plans,  but the assistance of a trained mediator to assist them.

The mediator addresses the different types of custody – legal and physical.  Most often joint legal custody is recommended.  Joint legal custody allows both parents to have equal say in significant issues such as health, education and general welfare.  Both parents have a say regardless of  whom the children live with the majority of the time.  It is important to remember that divorcing your spouse does not mean divorcing your children.  Both parents can be meaningfully involved in their children’s lives while living in separate houses, sometimes when living in separate states.

Physical custody is connected to where the children spend their time. Whomever has the children the majority of the time has physical custody.  That parent is designated at the Parent of Primary Residence and the other parent is designated as the Parent of Alternate Residence.  The mediator will help the parties reach an agreement on weekday schedules, holiday schedules, summer vacations and birthdays.  As well as any other event that might be significant to that family.  An important part of mediation is its flexibility.  Different families have different needs.  There is no one plan fits all.  Through mediation each family can craft a plan that serves them best.

If mediation is successful, the mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding, which will be sent to the parties, or their attorneys if they are represented by counsel.  If the Memorandum of Understanding is accepted by the parties it will be incorporated into a Custody and Parenting Time Consent Order.  This allows the parties to focus on other aspects of their litigation knowing that the issues surrounding their children have been resolved.  There is substantial financial and emotional savings to the parties if they can resolve custody and parenting time through mediation.

If you have any questions about custody and parenting time we at Iandoli & Edens, LLC will be happy to discuss your concerns with you, please call our firm at 908-879-9499.