IT’S CO-PARENTING, NOT VISITATION: BUT WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Updated: Feb 10
The conscious decision to replace “Visitation” with “Co-parenting” in our legal lexicon was a necessary and impactful change.
In New Jersey, we discuss Legal Custody and Physical Custody. In all but the most egregious cases, parents will share Joint Legal Custody, entitling each parent to participate in the major decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and well-being. When a parent has Physical Custody of the child during his/her parenting time, he or she is responsible for the day-to-day details involved in raising a child, such as picking what’s for dinner, coordinating the activities, seeing that homework is done, and the basic care of the child.
You will see I used the words parenting time—not visitation. When I first started practicing, “visitation” was still a word used; now, that word is virtually extinct, it is jarring to hear, and with good reason. You are a parent, you do not visit with your child. You parent. Parenting is a verb. And ideally, you co-parent.
So what is Co-Parenting? The idea of co-parenting was established in Italy at the beginning of the 21st century to combat a culture, a mindset, and a legal system that discriminated based on the gender norms and expectations associated with raising a child. Gone are the days when Dad never helps with bath time or carpools: Mom can’t be responsible for all of the mental load of parenting when she gets home from her job. Society is always changing, and our language must change with it. Words do matter and being a co-parent more accurately reflects the expectations, responsibilities, and joys that each parent must share.
High-conflict surrounding custody can be one of the most devastating things to witness and no good family lawyer I know wants to be a part of that. Let us be part of a possible solution. Let us help you set reasonable expectations for co-parenting.
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