MEETING HALF WAY

  
How do you and your co-parent arrange parenting time exchanges?   Does one parent do all the driving?   Do you share the driving?   The Court recently opined that parents should meet halfway!



In the recently decided (Sept. 5th) Appellate Division case of Devorak v. Devorak, a Father appealed a trial court’s decision that required the parties to share the driving responsibilities to facilitate his alternate weekend parenting time with their 9 year old child.

Father filed a motion at the trial court level seeking, among other things, an Order compelling the parties to equally share the driving responsibilities relative to his parenting time.  Mother filed a cross-motion compelling Father to “be required to do all the traveling in connection with his visitations.”

The deadlock arose from both parties’ history of moving between residences following their divorce.  At the time of their divorce, both parties lived in Woodbridge.  As per the parties’ Agreement, Father did the pick-ups and drop-offs for his alternate weekend parenting time.

However, Mother then moved to New York City and the parties entered into a consent order wherein Father agreed to continue doing all transportation relative to his parenting time, pending Mother’s relocation back to New Jersey.  Unfortunately, the parties’ consent order did not set forth a specific plan as to what the parties’ transportation arrangements would be after Mother effectuated her move, nor did it delineate a distance from Father or area wherein she would move.

Eventually, Mother moved to Roseland, New Jersey and Father moved to Ewing, New Jersey, which is approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes away (per GoogleMaps).

The Court found that Father “established a significant change in circumstances warranting a modification of a prior order regarding pick up and drop off….”. The trial Court also stated that “it is fair and equitable [for the parties] to share in the transportation responsibility” and ordered the parties to “agree to a pick up and drop off location equidistant between their current residences.”

On appeal, Mother argued that the trial court made an error in entering an order that modified the parties’ divorce agreement, and that Father did not have to pay alimony and paid “modest” child support in exchange for having agreed to do all the driving for parenting time. Mother also argued that she had to do all of the transportation for her other child from her subsequent marriage in support of her position.  The Appellate Court was unimpressed with Mother’s arguments, and affirmed the trial court’s findings that the parties should MEET HALFWAY.