Parenting time, formerly referred to as “visitation,” is a crucial part of a child custody arrangement, affording the non-custodial parent their constitutional right to the care and companionship of their child. Courts strive to ensure a continuing and meaningful relationship between the child and both parents, provided it is in the child’s best interests. The court considers several factors when determining a parenting time schedule, including but not limited to the following:
- Distance Between Parents’ Residences and the Child’s School
The geographical distance between parents’ homes and their child’s school can impact the parenting time schedule. For instance, if parents live far apart or a substantial distance from their child’s school, longer but less frequent visits might be more practical.
- Child’s Schedule
To avoid disruption to the child, the court considers the child’s daily schedule, including school, extracurricular activities, and social commitments. The goal is to create a parenting time schedule that accommodates the child’s activities while providing ample time with each parent.
- Parent’s Availability
The court considers each parent’s work schedule, availability, and commitment to spending time with the child. For example, if a parent’s work schedule leaves them little time to spend with a child and the child would spend the majority of that parent’s parenting time with a third-party, the court may consider whether it is more appropriate for the child to be cared for by the other parent.
- Sibling Relationships
The court considers the importance of maintaining sibling relationships. If siblings share both parents, efforts will be made to ensure they spend time together. If requested, courts may also attempt to coordinate parenting time schedules so that a child can spend time with their former step-siblings during their shared parent’s parenting time.
- Parent’s Health
The physical and mental health of the parent is considered, as it can impact their ability to care for the child during their parenting time.
- Child’s Wishes
Depending on the child’s age and maturity, courts may consider the child’s preferences regarding parenting time. However, the child’s wishes are just one factor, not the deciding one.
- Safety and Welfare of the Child
The court will consider any history of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect. If there’s a risk to the child’s safety or emotional wellbeing, the court may order supervised parenting time or other restrictions.
While these are some general factors considered, remember that each situation is unique. Courts aim to develop a parenting time schedule that promotes a strong and ongoing relationship between the child and both parents, with the child’s best interests at heart. Consulting with a legal professional can help you understand the factors as they apply to your situation.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding determining or modifying parenting time, contact the Williams Law Group, at (908) 810-1083, today to learn more about how we can assist you.