In New Jersey, the assumption is that after a divorce each parent will maintain a relationship with their children. This may be true even if your former spouse was abusive toward you or is otherwise difficult to get along with. In such a scenario, a parallel parenting plan is put in place to help minimize conflicts after the divorce is final.

When to Seek a Parallel Parenting Plan

A parallel parenting plan is a good solution for when you and your former spouse can’t get along for any reason. In such a scenario, a task as simple as a phone call to talk about an issue relating to your child is an impossible event to get through without conflict. Therefore, it may be best to limit communication to text messages or through an app.

Using the parallel parenting structure allows you to be there for your kids without having to involve your former spouse. The custody agreement will determine how much time you get to spend with your child, who gets to make important decisions for them, or how the transitions between parents will take place.

Ultimately, the only thing that you need to worry about is making sure that you fulfill your obligations to your child. The terms of a parenting plan can be changed as your child’s needs change.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

You may not like the fact that the other parent allows your child to go to bed at 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays or that they get an extra 30 minutes of screen time while at their house. However, as long as the child isn’t suffering any permanent harm because of those rules, you don’t get to say anything about them.

Of course, when your child is at your house, you get to set the rules regarding bedtimes or screen time without any interference from their other parent. If your child does seem to be struggling with a lack of sleep or declining social skills because of what you perceive as lax rules, you can bring these situations up with the court. However, the terms of the parenting agreement are designed so that you don’t need to get the courts involved over minor disputes.

Instead, you are encouraged to leave notes in the parenting app about any concerns that you might have. Even if your former spouse doesn’t necessarily care what you think, they may make adjustments for the sake of your child’s physical and mental health. However, you cannot make any unilateral changes to the parenting plan itself without the permission of a judge regardless of your feelings.

When to Get the Courts Involved

There are times when speaking up is likely a good policy. For instance, if you have reason to believe that your child is being physically or sexually abused, you’re encouraged to voice your concerns quickly. In such a scenario, the courts may suspend or modify an existing agreement while an investigation is pending.

Typically, this is grounds to deny the other parent any type of custody or visitation rights. At most, an abusive parent might be granted supervised visitation or other limited contact with their child. Working with a New Jersey family law attorney may be the best way to ensure that your child’s best interests are preserved throughout the divorce process.

You’ll Still Need to Communicate to Some Degree

Although you won’t need to have regular conversations with your former spouse, you’ll still need to maintain lines of communication with them. For instance, you may need to provide an update after a medical appointment or leave notes about an upcoming school project that your child needs supplies for. In some cases, failing to do so may result in the loss of custody or other parental rights.

If you want to discuss this type of issue with a New Jersey family law attorney, feel free to contact us at Morgenstern & Rochester today. You can do so by calling the Cherry Hill office at 856-489-6200.