As a father, losing the right to spend time with your children can be devastating. Whether you went through a separation or a divorce, now that the process is over and you are not seeing your children every day, all you want is to maximize the limited time that you do have and make sure they are safe when they are in their mother’s custody.
- How will you feel when you wake up knowing that your children are not down the hall?
- How will you feel when you need to try to figure out if there is a game or recital you can attend this weekend?
- How will you feel if your children’s mother makes a major decision without your input that could potentially change your children’s lives forever?
For many fathers, holidays and vacations help put these issues into perspective. With spring break fast approaching, we wanted to highlight a few particular issues for non-custodial fathers in New Jersey:
1. Do You Have the Right to Visitation During Spring Break?
Do you have the right to visitation during spring break? Since it is common for divorcing and separating parents to structure parenting plans that give the non-custodial parent (usually the father) visitation during spring break, many fathers automatically assume that they have visitation rights as well.
However, this will not necessarily always be the case. During a divorce or separation, the parents must craft a parenting plan that reflects the best interests of their children.
While there are some common practices for structuring parenting plans, every plan is unique to the parents who create it. As a result, in order to determine whether you have visitation rights during spring break, you need to examine the terms of your parenting plan.
2. Do You Have a Say in Your Former Spouse’s or Partner’s Spring Break Plans?
If you do not have visitation during spring break, do you have a say in where your children go on vacation? If your children are getting older, can they travel with friends, either with a parent or without one? Once again, to find the answers to these questions, you need to look the terms of your parenting plan.
In many cases, divorcing and separating parents will include terms in their parenting plans that specifically address issues like these during holidays and vacations. If your plan does not address these issues, then you will need to look at the terms regarding “legal custody.”
In New Jersey, “physical custody” and “legal custody” are separate concepts. While physical custody determines when you can spend time with your children, legal custody determines how much of a say you have in major decisions regardless of when they are made. It is not uncommon for fathers to have equal legal custody rights even when they have unequal visitation; and, depending on the specific terms of your parenting plan, you may have the right to object if you do not believe your former spouse’s or partner’s plans are in your children’s best interests.
3. What if Your Current Custody Arrangement Isn’t Working for You?
After getting divorced or separated, some fathers find that their custody and visitation arrangements simply are not working out. Whether due to unanticipated practical issues or changes in circumstances, sometimes what seemed fine originally does not work in practice.
While the grounds for seeking to modify custody and visitation in New Jersey are limited, if your current plan isn’t working, you owe it to yourself to speak with an attorney. If your former spouse or partner is not complying with the terms of your plan, an attorney may be able to help with enforcement as well.
Speak with a Hackensack, NJ Family Lawyer in Confidence
Would you like more information about your rights as a father in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To speak with an attorney at MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family LawTM of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC, please call 201-552-3394 or inquire online today.