All parents of minor children getting divorced will be required to prepare and submit to the court their plan for custody and parenting time. Generally, the parties will work with a family law attorney to finalize an agreement. However, if the parties cannot agree to terms for custody or parenting time, the New Jersey Family Court offers one (1) complimentary mediation session to assist the parents in reaching an agreement. Additionally, there are private, family mediators who specialize in custody matters.
When an agreement is reached or tentatively reached during mediation, a memorandum of understanding will be prepared by the mediator and either signed by the parties or provided to their respective attorneys for further review. The memorandum will address issues including but not limited to the following:
- Day to day custody and care of the children;
- The type of custody such as physical and legal custody and sole or shared custody;
- The weekday and weekend parenting time schedule;
- Summer vacations and school breaks; and
- Holidays and birthdays
The memorandum of understanding is used to prepare a final and binding agreement between the parties for the custody and visitation rights of the parents going forward. The agreement will be filed with the family court and be incorporated into the parties’ Marital Settlement Agreement.