If you are a non-custodial parent, there is nothing more critical to supporting the growth and development of your child than consistent visitation time. That is why it is so important to know your visitation rights according to New Jersey law.
New Jersey Visitation Rights Law
Under New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 9:2-4, the rights of both parents are considered when courts make decisions related to child custody and visitation time. However, New Jersey courts strongly encourage parents to voluntarily establish their own mutually acceptable parenting plans determining visitation, which is generally referred to as “parenting time” in the court system.
Parents who are unable to agree to a parenting plan are required to attend free mediation with a court-appointed mediator. Otherwise, the court will make the decision based on the best interests of the child.
When making a determination regarding a visitation schedule, New Jersey Courts consider any factor that affects the child’s best interests, including the following:
- the parents’ ability to agree, communicate, and cooperate on parenting issues;
- each parent’s willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse;
- the child’s interaction and relationship with parents and siblings;
- any history of domestic violence;
- the safety of the child and either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
- the preference of a child who is old enough to make an intelligent decision;
- the child’s needs;
- the stability of each parent’s home environment;
- the quality and continuity of the child’s education;
- each parent’s fitness;
- how close the parents live to each other;
- the extent and quality of the time each parent spent with the child both before and since the separation;
- each parent’s employment responsibilities, and
- the ages and number of the children.
Enforcing Your Visitation Rights
If the other parent is denying you your parenting time, you may establish a new court order, enforce or modify an existing court order, or file a criminal complaint to ensure your visitation rights with your child.
- Establish a New Court Order
If you have not been to court on this issue before, then you may need to establish a new court order. A visitation rights court order is an order from the family law judge that legally allocates scheduled time for you to have visitation time with your child.
This ensures that you are able to see your child regardless of whether the other party agrees with this or not. This is to ensure that issues in the relationship between you and the other party do not prevent you from having a relationship with your child.
- Enforce an Existing Court Order
If you already have a court order established, then you may need help with enforcing this order. This is where you notify the family law court that the court ordered visitation time is not being provided to you.
The court has the ability to force the other party to grant this visitation by imposing fines, ordering jail time, or in certain cases making changes to the custodial rights of the parties involved.
- Modify an Existing Court Order
In some circumstances, you may wish to modify an existing visitation schedule court order if you believe it is harmful to the welfare of your child.
In New Jersey, a party seeking modification of an existing parenting plan order bears the threshold burden of showing that the existing court order is no longer in the best interests of the child as a result of a change in circumstances.
- File a Criminal Complaint
Under New Jersey law, interference with visitation rights is a criminal offense. In emergent circumstances where the other parent refuses to comply with an existing visitation schedule court order, under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4(a) you have the right to file a criminal complaint for visitation interference. You will need to contact the police to assist you in enforcing this law as part of your right to due process.
Find out more about parenting time issues and legal remedies in this publication by the New Jersey Courts.
The information on this website is intended as general legal information only and should not form the basis of legal advice of any kind. Individuals seeking specific legal advice should consult a lawyer.