When a marriage ends and children are involved, the kids’ best interests should be the top priority for parents in determining child custody. In many cases, the parent who spends more time with their children is generally awarded physical custody and will receive more parenting time.
However, that doesn’t mean that a noncustodial parent with a demanding job, who has been the sole or majority bread-winner for the family, should surrender their rights for substantial quality time to the stay-at-home parent, or one whose job isn’t as time-consuming.
Making a case for more parenting time
You may have to make some substantial adjustments, but there are steps you can take to be more involved in your children’s lives after divorce, including:
- Make your kids the priority: Rather than looking for a “win” against your former spouse, always consider what’s best for the kids when negotiating parenting time.
- Don’t overreach: Commit only to the time you know you have to spend with your children. Overestimating will likely force you to disappoint everyone involved.
- Be diligent for after-school pickup and day care: If you are able to pick your kids up after school or provide reliable child care until you get home, some judges are open to allowing weekday visitation time for noncustodial parents.
- Be upfront with your employer: Let your supervisor know you need more flexibility in your schedule so you can have more parenting time with your kids.
- Play by the same rules: Custodial parents who routinely schedule babysitters or hire nannies should consider giving their former spouses the same flexibility in their custody agreement.
Children benefit from spending quality time with both parents
Custody issues are at the center of many contentious divorce cases in New Jersey. However, the court is only concerned with doing what’s best for the children. Courts assume kids are more likely to succeed in life when both parents are involved in their care and upbringing.