Can You Make It Work? Requirements for Custody Modifications

Can You Make It Work? Requirements for Custody ModificationsWhen Needs Change


Family court orders are legally enforceable, meaning the parents must obey them. If they cannot follow them or otherwise need to make a change, they may ask the court to modify certain orders. Custody orders are commonly modified. Indeed, the court anticipates such modifications. As a child grows up, his or her needs may change, and those needs must be reflected in the custody and parenting time order. New Jersey family law courts grant modifications to custody and parenting time orders when it is in the child’s best interests. This is the golden standard when it comes to matters involving custody and parenting time. The problem is, how do you know what is in your child’s best interests? And what is required for the court to grant a modification request?

Requirements for Custody Modifications in New Jersey

The court will never grant a modification that is clearly not in the child’s best interests. But, in many situations, it isn’t clear how to define that. This is especially true when the parents do not agree. Thus, the first thing you should consider before filing a motion (i.e. application) for modification is: is the change you seek in the best interests of your child? If you cannot answer that, speak with an attorney. An experienced New Jersey child custody attorney will be familiar with situations similar to yours and can advise you on your options and how to pursue a modification.

Parents seek modifications for a number of issues, including increasing or reducing parenting time or changing custody. The parent seeking the modification must demonstrate the requested change is in the child’s best interest. To do this, the parent must state, in his or her own words, the reason for the modification request. This must be then served on the other parent, and that parent will have a chance to respond. Some factors the court will consider when determining whether the request is in the child’s best interest include:

What is the parent’s motivation for the request?

Is it motivated by spite or a desire to impede the relationship between the other parent and child? Or is it to move closer to a support group or take a better paying job? The reason for the request matters.

What are the child’s needs?

Will the modification affect those needs? How so? Remember, the court views frivolous or frequent modifications as potentially detrimental to a child, as children benefit from consistency. If you are seeking a modification, make sure it is what’s best for your child. For example, moving to be closer to family can indeed benefit your child, but the court will consider how that would impact the other parent’s parenting time.

How will the modification affect the other parent’s parenting or custodial time?

The court takes requests for relocations seriously. The New Jersey family courts presume it is in the child’s best interests to have generous parenting time with the noncustodial parent. Relocations can significantly affect parenting time, and so they are not easily granted.

What other court orders or legal protections may affect the modification?

For example, if a parent is trying to modify custody, how will it affect child support?

Consider Your Child’s Best Interests When Seeking a Modification

Review these factors with a New Jersey child custody attorney. The requirements for custody modifications boil down to protecting the well being of the child. An attorney will be able to help you review these factors by asking you questions about your life. An attorney can also help you draft an application for modification that will present a compelling argument.

Do you want to learn about the requirements for custody modifications 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, 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.

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