What Does A Sample Child Custody and Parenting Time Agreement Look Like?
During my career as a child custody lawyer here in New Jersey, I have always promoted two parents to reach a settlement with respect to their children. In my opinion, an attorney who does not do so (absent exigent or special circumstances regarding one or both parents) is doing their client as well as the child involved a disservice. Accordingly, I thought it would be helpful for my law firm to share a sample (and hypothetical) Child Custody and Parenting Time Agreement. If the parents were to agree on such a plan, then your lawyer would prepare a Consent Order memorializing the agreement. After signed by both parents and attorneys, this document would then be submitted to the Superior Court of New Jersey’s for a judge’s review and execution. Then it would become law. Please review the following sample Plan and please contact my office to learn more about how we may assist you.
- The parties agree to allow each parent to share quality and extent of time with Ruth as before the separation so they may each continue to foster a close, involved, loving and nurturing relationship with Ruth. Therefore, the parties will share joint legal custody and shared joint custody. Mother will be the parent of primary residence and the Father will be the parent of alternate residence. The parties will consult and communicate freely with each other and try to come to mutual agreement on all major issues concerning Ruth, including, but not limited to, her physical and mental health, her safety and general well-being, activities, educational needs, and religious upbringing, guided at all times by what they believe to be in the best interest of Ruth. Neither parent will make unilateral decisions in these areas except in the case of an extreme emergency.
- The parties will make every effort to maintain consistency in both of their households in the areas of Ruth’s diet, discipline, nap time, participation in extracurricular activities and other co-parenting matters that may arise.
- Both parties will cooperate with each other in effectuating the rights of each to custody and parenting time with Ruth.
- Neither party shall speak negatively about the other in front of the minor child nor will they raise their voices or fight in front of her.
- The parties recognize that it is essential that Ruth’s affection for both parents be preserved and bolstered and that neither parent shall do anything to diminish the natural affection that exists between each of them and Ruth. They agree to exert every reasonable effort to maintain free access and unhampered contact between Ruth and the other parent. Neither parent shall do anything that may alienate the affection of the child for either parent or injure the child’s opinion as to the other or hamper the free and natural development of the child’s love and affection for the other parent. Neither party shall allow any new significant other to interfere with the relationship of the child with her other parent.
- Both parties shall be able to attend that Ruth is involved in, such as concerts, school plays, dance recitals, all extra-curricular activities, graduations, etc. Tickets for such events, if required, shall be equally distributed between the parties. Each parent is entitled to attend all activities regardless of the parenting time schedule.
- Neither parent shall use Ruth to deliver messages from one to the other, regarding any issues, including but not limited to, financial, personal, parenting time and the like. Ruth is not to be utilized as a “middle man” or should she be involved in her parents’ personal disputes.
- The parties will have equal access to all of Ruth’s medical and school records. Both parties’ shall receive copies of Ruth’s report cards, school activity notifications, and extra-curricular notifications, which access they can arrange themselves.
- Any significant changes or concerns in Ruth’s physical, emotional or mental health, as well as any declining performance in her school work or extra-curricular activities must be shared with the other parent as soon as possible. Should Ruth require counseling at any time, both parties must cooperate in providing same to her by a mutually agreed upon professional.
- Both parties have agreed that for Ruth’s safety, neither party shall allow a dog to reside in their home nor will either party allow a dog to visit their home while Ruth is present. The exception is Dutchie, the family pet. When Ruth gets a little older, should the parties mutually agree to buy her a puppy, they shall do so together. The parties agree that they will never leave Ruth unattended, especially in the presence of any animal or dog.
- The parties will be dating others and agree to use good judgment when considering who they will introduce to Ruth or allow in their homes, especially when Ruth is present, keeping in mind at all times Ruth’s safety as well as her emotional and moral well-being.
- To continue to ensure parenting time and to continue to ensure a close and loving relationship between Ruth and her parents, the parties agree not to move more than ______ miles from each other without the consent of the other party, in writing and notarized.
- Neither party shall leave the State or County without the consent of the other. The parties shall not unreasonably without consent, especially as to out-of-State vacations and to visit with family out-of-State. The party leaving the State or County must provide the other parent with an itinerary and contact telephone numbers where they can be reached at all times.
- Parties agree they are both fit and proper parents to Ruth. Both wish to be an integral and constant part of Ruth’s days and wish to allow flexibility in the parenting schedule to continue to foster the love and quality and quantity of time they spent with her prior to their separation.
- Mother’s Parenting Time: Mother is at home from work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. She is also off on Thursday until Thursday evening when she goes to work. She will have parenting time with Ruth on these days. Father shall have liberal and reasonable visitation with Ruth after he gets off from work on any of these days, including at least one overnight per week any of these days.
- Father’s Parenting Time: In addition to #2 above, Father shall have parenting time on Fridays after work and overnight (as Mother works Friday evenings). He will enjoy parenting time all day Saturday including overnight (as Mother works Saturday evenings) and all day Sunday, including occasional Sunday overnights.
- The parties wish to allow for flexibility in the parenting schedule and wish to spend some times together as a “family unit” with Ruth including gardening, going to a playground, dining out, taking Ruth to an amusement park or to the beach, etc.
- General Parenting Guidelines: If either party will be unavailable to care for Ruth during his or her respective parenting time, he or she will offer the other parent the first option to spend that time with Ruth. If the other parent is not available, it is the responsibility of the parent scheduled for parenting time to arrange for appropriate, responsible care for Ruth.
- Each party shall be responsible to pick up and deliver Ruth back to the other on their respective parenting time. Each shall also be responsible for transporting Ruth to her scheduled extra-curricular activities and social activities during his or her respective parenting time, although they may cooperate with one another if alternate plans are needed for travel arrangements.
- Each party shall provide the other with at least 48 hours notice of any necessary changes to the parenting time schedule, except in the event of an emergency, in which case as much notice as possible shall be provided. If either party will be more than thirty (30) minutes late to pick up or drop off Ruth, he or she shall promptly call and so advise the other parent.
- Each parent will supervise Ruth with her homework on any day they have parenting time with her.
- The parties agree they will allow reasonable phone access with Ruth during their respective parenting time.
- The parties agree to return communication from the other in a prompt and timely manner when Ruth is the reason for the call or communication. They agree they will provide any new telephone numbers (home, work or cell), email addresses and residential addresses to each other within 2 days of obtaining them.
- Both parties agree to contact the other parent as soon as possible at the time of an emergency situation involving Ruth. If Ruth needs immediate medical attention, the accompanying parent will make the decision on that issue. If she does not need immediate medical attention, the accompanying parent will call the other parent so they can make a mutual decision on their child’s care and treatment.
- Vacation Parenting Time: Each parent is entitled to two (2) non-consecutive weeks of vacation time with Ruth per year. The parties agree to give a minimum of two weeks advance notice if they wish to schedule vacation time with Ruth, and to provide the other parent with an itinerary of the vacation arrangements. The parties agree to provide telephone numbers to the other and to permit phone contact with Ruth and the other parent during vacation periods.
- Should either parent request an additional vacation week, or any part thereof, with Ruth, that request should not be unreasonably denied by the other parent.
- Holiday Parenting Time: The parties agree they will spend time with their daughter according to the following Holiday Schedule:
- With Mother With Father
- New Year’s Eve Even numbered years Odd numbered years
- New Year’s Day Odd numbered years Even numbered years
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day As per scheduled parenting plan day
- President’s Day As per scheduled parenting plan day
- Good Friday As per scheduled parenting plan day
- Easter Sunday Share the day
- Memorial Day As per scheduled parenting plan day
- July 4th As per scheduled parenting plan day/Flexible
- Labor Day As per scheduled parenting plan day/Flexible
- Halloween Share the day
- Thanksgiving Day Alternate or Share the Day
- School Holidays, Recess As per parenting schedule or flexible
- Christmas Eve Odd numbered years Even numbered years
- Christmas Day Share the day
- Mother’s Birthday Mother
- Father’s Birthday Father
- Mother’s Day Mother (and/or share w/Grandparents)
- Father’s Day (and/or share w/Grandparents)
15. The celebration of Ruth’s birthday will be shared by both parents together with family and friends.
16. The parties agree to discuss any proposed vacation time they may wish to take with Ruth during school break periods and agree to be flexible regarding Christmas and Spring Break vacation periods.
17. The holiday parenting time supersedes regular parenting time.
18. The parties can share any other holiday not specifically mentioned as mutually agreed upon.
19. Either party may request having Ruth for some extended family member’s birthday, special occasion, or emergency even if it is not their regularly scheduled day. Neither parent shall unreasonably withhold agreement if it does not interfere with any plans they might already have made with Ruth.
20. The parties shall refrain from making any other plans with Ruth during the other parent’s respective parenting time without at least 48 hours’ notice and with the consent of the other parent. Either parent shall have “make-up” time for any lost parenting time.
21. Neither party will take Ruth out of school for any extended parenting time/vacation or extra-curricular activity without first obtaining consent of the other parent.
22. The parties agree to participate in mediation to resolve any issues they cannot settle between themselves regarding custody and/or parenting time which may arise in the future before submitting those issues to the Court for determination, except for emergency or urgent issues involving the health or safety of their minor daughter.
1. Child support shall be calculated by the Court pursuant to the New Jersey Child Support Shared Parenting Guidelines with both parties having presented their 2015 W-2 forms and current pay stubs to the Court as per the Court’s request. Said amount is based on Father’s average income of $______________ per year and Mother’s average income of $____________ per year. Father has been credited with payment of Ruth’s health insurance in the amount of $_____________ per week as well as overnights well in excess of 106 per year. Child support is hereby ordered as follows:
Father to pay $_____________ per week for Ruth, beginning the week of April 18, 2016. The parties agree payment shall be by way of Money Order.
2. The parties acknowledge that either party’s obligation to pay child support may have to be re-calculated should either party lose their job through no fault of their own or should either party earn substantially more or less money in the future given legitimate circumstances.
3. The minor child shall be deemed emancipated upon the earliest happening of the following:
a. Reaching the age of eighteen (18) years of age or the completion of high school, whichever is the latter, unless the child goes on to continuous post high school education on a full-time basis, in which case support will continue until the child reaches the age of twenty-three (23).
b. Marriage of the child, even though such marriage may be void or voidable and despite any annulment thereof;
c. Permanent residence away from the residence of either party. A residence at a boarding school, camp or college is not deemed to be a residence away from a parties residence and, hence, not an emancipation event.
d. Change of residential custody with the minor child residing with her Father.
e. Death of a child.
f. Entry into the Armed Forces of the United States, whether voluntary or involuntary.
g. Engaging in full-time employment upon or after the age of 18, except that:
(1) Engaging in partial employment shall not be deemed an emancipation event; and
(2) Engaging in full-time employment during vacation or summer periods shall not be deemed an emancipation event unless the child has completed high school and reached the age of eighteen years.
(3) Engaging in full-time employment while maintaining a full-time curriculum, or if the child is on a work/release program at school, shall not be deemed an emancipation event. This includes periods during college.
MEDICAL, DENTAL, PRESCRIPTION
1. The parties are each responsible for their own medical, dental, vision, prescription, and life insurance.
2. Father agrees to provide and maintain medical, dental, vision, and prescription drug insurance for the benefit of Ruth until she is deemed emancipated. In the event that the Father is no longer able to provide same through his employer, albeit at no fault of his own, and the Mother is able to provide health insurance for the benefit of the minor child through her employer, the Mother shall maintain medical, dental, vision and prescription drug insurance for the benefit of the minor child until she is deemed emancipated. In the event neither party can maintain insurance for the minor child through their respective employer, the parties shall discuss and equally split any costs related to obtained said insurance for Ruth.
3. As long as Ruth is covered under Father’s medical plan, Mother shall be responsible for the first $250.00 per year for Ruth of any deductible or unreimbursed medical expenses. After she pays the first $250.00 per year, the remaining cost of any unreimbursed or uncovered medical expenses shall be paid ___________% by the Father and __________% by the Mother, Including any and all unreimbursed medical, dental, vision, prescription, hospital, psychological, psychiatric, counseling, ophthalmologic, optometric, orthodontic or other medical or dental related expenses of the minor child.
1. The parties agree that they shall each be responsible for college costs incurred on behalf of Ruth after Ruth has applied for all grants, scholarships and loans, and has accepted all of which she qualifies to receive. The cost of same shall be based upon each party’s “ability to pay” as per the case of Newburgh, including, but not limited to, their respective pro rata percentage share of the parties’ total combined income at the time the expense incurred. College costs shall include, but are not limited to, room, board, books school supplies and transportation to and from school. The child has an affirmative obligation to consult and confer with both parents before a choice of college is determined and the reality of the financial position of both parties and the child shall be given serious consideration. The parties acknowledge that either party’s support obligation may have to be recalculated after determining their respective responsibility for the cost of the child’s education.
2. Each party shall be involved in Ruth’s choice of college and selection process. Both parties are to keep the other informed during the college selective process and which schools the child desires to attend. Each parties consent to a school for the child shall not be unreasonably withheld and both party’s financial situations shall be considered when the child chooses a school.
TAX DEFICIENCIES AND REFUNDS
1. The parties shall alternate claiming Ruth as a dependent deduction each year, beginning with _________________ claiming her for 2015.
1. This Agreement contains the entire agreement and understanding of the parties with respect to custody, co-parenting time, child support, medical/dental/prescription/vision insurance for Ruth, extra-curricular activities, college and other as pertains to the party’s daughter, Ruth Nicole Kapcsandi.
2. The parties accept the terms of this Agreement as being fair, reasonable and satisfactory to them.
3. The parties further acknowledge that they entered into this Agreement freely and voluntarily. No party was subject to force, constraint, compulsion, coercion, intimidation or duress to resolve the issues.
4. In the event of any dispute arising out of this Agreement or the performance thereof, the parties agree they will make a reasonable good faith effort to settle the dispute by Agreement before using the Court for any determination.
5. The parties each agree they have waived their right to consult an attorney.
6. This Agreement is a Binding Agreement and has been filed with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Court, Middlesex County, New Jersey. Should either party fail to abide by the terms of this Agreement, the defaulting party will indemnify the other for all other reasonable expenses and costs, including any attorney fees that may necessitate to be incurred in successfully enforcing this Agreement.