Monmouth County Child Custody Modification Lawyer
Child custody orders can make it easier to co-parent, because you know in advance what days you will have your child, where they will be picked up or dropped off, and which holidays you get to share with them. However, life circumstances can change and impact the practicality of an existing custody arrangement.
It is critically important to follow the correct legal procedures when you need to change the terms of your custody order. A child custody attorney can help you follow relevant laws to avoid civil or criminal penalties for violating the existing order. A Monmouth County child custody modification lawyer can help you present your case in court or negotiate with the other parent to improve the chances of a favorable result.
New Jersey Child Custody Laws
When making child custody determinations or modifying existing orders, family court judges must follow the “best interests of the child” standard, per N.J.S.A. 9:2-4(a). Parents who wish to modify their custody terms must convince the judge that there has been a change in circumstances that affects the welfare of the children and that the modification benefits their children, not just themselves.
Under N.J.S.A. 9:2-4(a), factors the judge will consider when determining the child’s best interest include:
- The parents’ willingness to work together and communicate
- The safety and stability of the homes in which the child will reside
- The child’s existing bond with each parent
- The child’s proximity and relationship with siblings and other family members
- The child’s health and educational needs
A child deemed old and mature enough to make their own custody decisions can express a preference as to their desired living situation. However, because the “best interests” standard still applies, the child’s preference may not be considered if they ask to be placed in an unsafe situation or if they are not mature enough to express their opinion. A family law attorney with experience modifying child custody arrangements can help parents present supporting evidence showing these factors weigh in their favor.
Modifying Child Custody Orders
Unlike an application for child custody enforcement, which seeks to compel a parent to follow the terms of an existing custody order, an application for child custody modification seeks to alter the terms of the order.
To have a custody order modified, the parent will need to file the appropriate application with the court. Although parents will have a hearing before a family court judge to explain why they are seeking modification, they still need to explain why they are making this request when they file the application. Additionally, in most cases, the court will require the parents to attend custody mediation first to attempt to negotiate an agreement.
There are many reasons a parent may need to modify a child custody order:
A parent who wishes to move out of state, can only do so with permission from the other parent or the court pursuant to https://law.justia.com/codes/new-jersey/2022/title-9/section-9-2-2/.
A new job or a new work schedule can interrupt a parent’s parenting time, necessitating custody modifications so they can make the most of the time they have with their child.
Disagreements Over Legal Custody Issues
Parents who share joint legal custody of their child and cannot agree on important decisions about the child’s wellbeing may look into modifying the legal custody arrangement. For example, one parent may strongly oppose that the other makes about raising their children. Additionally, one parent may make mutual decision making impossible, requiring the other parent to be given sole decision-making power.
A parent who believes their child would be in imminent danger in the care of the other parent can temporarily obtain sole physical custody. The parent must request an emergency custody hearing to modify the order.
Violating the terms of a custody order without having it modified first can lead to civil penalties or charges of contempt of court, custodial interference, or kidnapping. As such, legal representation from a family law attorney in Monmouth County is strongly recommended for child custody modification cases.
Get Help From a Monmouth County Child Custody Modification Attorney
When your existing child custody order no longer works for your family, pursuing a modification is the best way to protect you and your child. A Monmouth County child custody modification lawyer can help you stay in compliance with the terms of your agreement while advocating for the changes that you need. Call Moskowitz Law Group for legal support.