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The importance of parenting plans

New Jersey couples who get divorced and who have young children could benefit from parenting agreements that clearly define their responsibilities. In addition to showing courts, schools, children and others that both parents are committed to active involvement, agreements serve as frameworks for disputes that may keep children from getting tangled up in arguments. In some cases, having a strong agreement might even make it easier to handle disputes out of court.

One potential advantage of parenting plans is that their details can be included in court records. Should disputes later arise, both parties can refer back to what they committed to in writing. Working together to formulate a plan before going to divorce court might also make it easier to spot potential problems or unworkable agreement terms.

In addition, these plans can help parents obtain some form of emotional closure. Most divorcing parents obtain or agree to have joint legal custody, which allows each parent input into certain major decisions regarding their children such as education and religion. The plans also address physical custody and time-sharing as well. Other issues can be addressed in a parenting plan, such as what will happen if one parent needs to relocate to another state due to employment considerations. The plans can often provide guidance for subsequent modifications or adjustments.

Child custody decisions have a major impact on families. Parents who take proactive roles in deciding how their children will be cared for may fare better than those who leave it to the court system to determine what's in a child's best interest. Learning about different legal options before getting divorced could also make it easier for couples to protect the lifestyles their families are accustomed to and provide stability that eases the process for everyone involved.

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