Parents involved in a divorce or parenting petition often have questions about custody issues, or parenting time. The questions generally concern what options are best in any given situation. This article summarizes the key points of the ways in which parenting time is divided.
In New Hampshire the law is that there is a presumption that parenting time should be shared, in other words divided equally between the parents. In the past that equal division was called joint custody. It is now referred to as shared parenting time. The way in which shared parenting time is structured can take many forms, such as alternating weeks, sharing weekdays with alternating weekends, etc. The structure is meant to suit the family’s schedule. However, it may be that due to schedules or distance one parent has a greater share of parenting time.
A parent may be awarded sole custody or residential responsibility if the other parent has issues such as untreated substance abuse or mental illness. Such an award of parenting time may be modified if the parent receives treatment for their illness.
In addition to a parenting schedule there is the issue of decision making. Each parent makes day to day decisions while the children are in their care, including emergency decisions regarding health or welfare. There is most commonly an order for joint decision making for decisions regarding education, religion and medical care. When a parent has sole parenting time or in cases involving domestic violence between the parents there is very often an order for sole decision making.
The best case scenario for children in these cases is for shared parenting time and joint decision making. The statistics are clear that the mental health of children in contested parenting cases suffers. The ability of parents to co-parent in those kinds of cases also suffers.