Child custody is such an emotional family law issue for men. Any New Jersey child custody lawyer for fathers knows how challenging it can be for dads to achieve an equitable custody schedule. This leaves many feeling as if they cannot maintain a strong bond with their children, and the feeling intensifies when co-parents live in different states or countries.
Divorce for men in New Jersey often necessitates the creation of an informal parenting plan or an official custody order. If you are the non-custodial parent who will be living in a different state after your divorce, you may only get to see your kids a few times a year. Consider these tips to optimize your custody arrangement and plan for longer visits.
Consult School Schedules First
Your child’s school schedule is the most important piece of information you’ll need to consider. Long-distance custody arrangements must take into account the length of the school year, school holidays, and other time periods when it is possible for your child to travel. Since you always want to act in your child’s best interests, you probably respect how important stability is to her development. Luckily, you can honor a New Jersey child custody order while keeping your child’s routine relatively consistent during the school year.
School districts often have long weekends due to testing and teacher workshops. If you live close enough to your child – within reasonable driving distance – these long weekends can be a great time to spend together. However, if you live hours away from your child, you’ll probably need to request custody during summer break and holidays.
The logistics of a long-distance 50/50 or 60/40 custody arrangement are usually too complicated to benefit either parent or the child. If you’re a plane ride or long drive away from your child, a “summers only” or 80/20 custody split may be necessary. Your New Jersey child custody attorney can help you request custody during the summer, holidays, and long weekends during arbitration or in court.
Cooperate with Your Ex
I get it – remaining cordial toward your ex is challenging at best and near-impossible at worst, but finding a middle ground will make things easier for both of you. As a New Jersey divorce lawyer for men, I’ve seen cooperative exes come up with mutually beneficial parenting plans and walk away from mediation happy with their solution. I’ve also seen high-conflict divorces where both parents refuse to cooperate and end up in court. Parents in the latter camp usually end up distraught over the judge’s order because it doesn’t take into account vital information about their child’s life (sports and extracurriculars, proximity to friends, etc.). You can avoid this fate by remaining pleasant toward your ex-wife and making it your goal to create a parenting plan outside of the courtroom.
Issues are bound to arise from time to time when a child is traveling longer distances to reach the non-custodial parent. If you don’t have a formal custody arrangement, you’ll need to roll with the punches to keep your healthy co-parenting relationship intact. If your child is invited to a last-minute birthday party over the long weekend, is there another time you can see her later that month? If your ex has a business trip during the week, are you willing to drive your kid an hour from your house to school that week to help her mom out?
It’s also important to be flexible with the terms of an informal parenting arrangement as your child gets older and her needs change. Your kid might be happy to spend long weekends with you now, but what about when she makes the soccer team or gets her first job? Prepare yourself for the possibility of changing your arrangement when your child gets a new hobby or forms her own custody preferences.
Of course, you can also request a change to a court-ordered custody arrangement if any new circumstances arise. You’ll need to work with your child custody lawyer in New Jersey to modify your parenting plan regardless of whether it is informal or court-ordered.
New Jersey Child Custody and Visitation Lawyers for Men
You deserve a fair custody schedule even if you live states away from your ex. If it’s time to create or modify your custody schedule, contact our child custody attorneys for men. We’ll make sure the final custody arrangement is best for your child and suits your unique circumstances. Contact us to get started with a free consultation.