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Frustrations parents have with child custody decisions

When New Jersey parents get divorced, one parent is often granted primary physical custody of their children while the other is typically given some visitation rights. However, in many cases, this results in the non-custodial parent being shut out, even when they share legal custody.

Some experience a frustrating lack of control. For example, non-custodial parents may feel that they are not granted equal access to medical and school records or that their input is not as valued when it comes to important medical decisions and school conferences. Although the parenting plan and the legal custody order may give them the right to, there are times when the custodial parent fails to give timely notice. Many non-custodial parents feel that, even when they are given the chance to participate in a meeting with a child's teacher, for example, their opinions are given less weight.

Some fathers feel that divorce courts unfairly favor the mother when it comes to determining physical custody. Although courts are supposed to be gender-neutral in this regard, mothers are awarded primary physical custody in most cases. The father then feels cheated out of spending quality time with his children and is limited to a visitation schedule that in some cases is insufficient. In addition, parenting plans often don't take into account special occasions that may have been unforeseeable when the plans were negotiated.

Some of these issues could be addressed through negotiations or mediation if the parents are able to communicate with each other. However, a non-custodial parent whose efforts to play a larger role in his children's life are being thwarted may want to have the assistance of counsel in pursuing a modification of the order if all else fails.

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