When It’s Time for a Change
A parent may file a motion to modify custody in New Jersey if there has been a significant change in circumstances. A change of circumstances is significant if they were not present or could not have been predicted at the time of the original custody order issuance. Examples of situations that could be considered a significant change in circumstances include:
- The custodial parent has a good faith reason (i.e. compelling) for relocation
- Either parent has failed to follow the custody and parenting time order
- The original custody and parenting time order is no longer in the best interests of the child
- The child is at imminent risk of harm due to the standing custody and parenting time order, which must be changed to secure the child’s safety
This list is not exhaustive but should give you an idea of the kinds of scenarios parents often find themselves in when seeking custody modifications.
If your schedule changes, you must be able to clearly demonstrate to the judge that this is a significant change in circumstances. You will also need to demonstrate why and how you want custody modified. For example, modifying custody because you need more time in your day might not constitute a significant enough change in circumstances. If your schedule at work involuntarily changed, however, and you were no longer able to follow the existing custody order, the judge might consider this a significant change in circumstances.
A change in schedule alone is not in and of itself enough to warrant a modification of custody. Even small changes can disrupt a child’s life. New Jersey family law judges want to ensure custody orders protect the well being of children. Custody orders can provide a child with routine and stability. But frequent modifications may be harmful to the child. Your change in schedule must be a compelling reason for modifying custody. Otherwise, the judge may view it as a frivolous request and deny your motion outright.
How to Modify Custody
If you need to modify custody due to a change in your schedule, consider resolving the issue directly with the other parent. If you can do so amicably and in good faith, you might be able to save the expense of going to court. But many parents are unable to or feel uncomfortable with forming agreements to deviate from the existing custody order with the other parent. This is not uncommon. You should not feel bad if you can’t reach an agreement over a modification on your own. Custody is a high-stakes, emotionally charged issue many parents struggle to agree on.
If you want a legally enforceable custody order that looks out for your child’s best interests, consult with a seasoned New Jersey child custody attorney. An attorney can explain the New Jersey statute on child custody modifications and go over some of the things the family law judge will look for when reviewing a request for custody modification. From there, you can prepare a compelling argument to give you the greatest chance of having your request granted without a bitter court battle.
Do you need to modify custody in New Jersey? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled divorce attorneys can help you navigate the modification process from start to finish. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.