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New Jersey Parenting Time When Noncustodial Parent is Incarcerated

There are instances in which a noncustodial parent ends up incarcerated. When that occurs, that individual does not automatically lose his or her rights to exercise New Jersey parenting time with a child or children. There are some ways in which a parent can maintain a relationship with a child or children while incarcerated.

In-Person Visitation

The parent can request scheduled visits with their child (in-person New Jersey parenting time) in a supervised setting at the correctional facility. By definition, prison visits of almost all types have a level of supervision. These visits provide an opportunity for face-to-face interaction and allow the parent and child to spend quality time together. It's a chance for the parent to see their child's growth and development firsthand and to maintain a strong bond despite the physical separation. The visits can also serve as a platform for the parent to actively participate in their child's life, engage in activities, and create lasting memories together.

Phone Calls

Regular phone calls can be arranged between the parent and their child to maintain communication. These calls offer a way for the parent to stay connected and involved in their child's life. It provides a means for them to have conversations, share stories, provide guidance, and offer support. Phone calls can help bridge the gap between the parent and child and ensure that their relationship remains intact. Additionally, hearing each other's voices can provide a sense of comfort and reassurance, strengthening the emotional bond between them. While nothing really can take the place of face-to-face parenting time, when a noncustodial parent is incarcerated, telephone communication can be the best alternative.

Video Calls

Virtual parenting time can be facilitated through video calls, allowing the parent and child to see each other. This technology-enabled option goes beyond phone calls by providing a visual component. Video calls allow the parent to see their child's expressions, gestures, and overall well-being. It provides a more interactive and immersive experience, making the distance between them feel less significant. Through video calls, the parent can actively participate in their child's daily activities, observe milestones, and provide real-time support and encouragement. As an aside, video calls are becoming more widely available for incarcerated individuals.


An incarcerated noncustodial parent can write letters or send cards to their child, fostering a sense of connection and support. Through written communication, the parent can express their love, encouragement, and guidance. They can share their thoughts, experiences, and advice, and provide emotional support to their child. Correspondence offers a tangible way for the parent to show their presence and care, even when physically apart. The child can treasure these letters and cards, reading them repeatedly and feeling a sense of comfort and connection to their parent.

Parenting Programs

Participating in parenting programs offered within the correctional facility can help the parent develop skills and knowledge to support their child's well-being. These programs provide education, resources, and guidance on effective parenting techniques, child development, and maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship. By actively engaging in these programs, the parent can enhance their parenting skills and ensure they are equipped to support their child's growth and well-being. These programs may include workshops, classes, counseling, and support groups, all aimed at helping the parent navigate the challenges of parenting from a distance. These types of parenting programs for incarcerated individuals are becoming increasingly more commonplace in New Jersey correctional institutions of different types.

New Jersey Parenting Time and the Best Interests of a Child Standard

As a final thought, matters pertaining to New Jersey parenting time are governed by the best interests of a child standard. The best interests of a child standard in a New Jersey divorce refers to the legal principle that guides decisions regarding child custody and visitation arrangements. It prioritizes the well-being and welfare of the child involved. When determining the best interests of the child, New Jersey courts consider various factors, including but not limited to:

  • The child's age, physical and mental health, and developmental needs
  • The parents' ability to provide a stable and safe home environment
  • The child's relationship with each parent and other significant individuals in their life
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent
  • The child's preference (if they are of a suitable age and maturity to express it)
  • The parents' willingness to cooperate and facilitate ongoing contact between the child and the noncustodial parent

Ultimately, the court aims to make decisions that promote the child's overall well-being and ensure their physical and emotional needs are met. If you have any questions concerning child custody and parenting time, call 201-845-7400 for a free consultation.

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