New Jersey Child Custody Modification Lawyer
Family law courts in New Jersey primarily consider the best interests of children when finalizing a child custody order. Unless there is evidence demonstrating otherwise, family law courts assume that it is good for a child to have regular and continuing contact with both parents. Often, though, a change in circumstances in the lives of either parent or the child may require modifications of the child custody order.
If you are looking to pursue a modification of your existing arrangement, it may be wise to contact a New Jersey child custody modification lawyer for information and guidance on what steps to take. Obtaining a modification is not always simple and your ability to do so may hinge on finding a qualified child custody attorney who has experience handling child custody matters. The burden of proof will be on you and your lawyer to convince a court that a change in circumstances has become detrimental to the child’s best interests.
How to Modify a NJ Child Custody Agreement
It is essential to remember that the court will always put the needs and best interests of the child first. However, there are still two ways that custody plans might be changed.
The easiest way for a child custody agreement to be modified is for both parents to amicably work out a new arrangement and have it approved by a court. A so-called consent order could be created by the parents alone or with the help of a New Jersey child custody modification lawyer. In either case, it must be signed by both parents and clearly specify the terms of the new agreement.
File a Motion for Modification
If the parents are unable to come to agree on a modification, then one of them may file a motion for modification, usually with the same court that approved the existing child support order. To succeed, the parent and their New Jersey child custody modification attorney must show that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred, requiring modification for the child’s best interest. A judge has the discretion to order the parties to attend mediation in an attempt to create a modification of custody by consent.
What Constitutes a Substantial Change in Circumstances?
Unless a child custody agreement is modified by consent, the only other way it can be modified is if one parent can demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Family law judges have wide discretion to determine whether a substantial change in circumstances has taken place. Common scenarios where a parenting schedule may need modification includes:
- One or both parents have moved and now live far apart, making the existing child custody agreement unworkable
- If one of the parents is refusing to comply with the terms of the existing order
- There is evidence that one of the parents has an alcohol or drug addiction or is often intoxicated while caring for the child
- When the child – if old enough – has clearly stated a preference that is inconsistent with the existing order
Parents should consult a New Jersey child custody modification lawyer for guidance on whether a court might accept their request for modification.
Speak with a New Jersey Child Custody Modification Attorney Today
There are many valid reasons why a parent might need to modify a child custody order. You should have the ability to do so either by agreement with the other parent or by proving to a court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. You are fighting to take care of your child, and if the current parenting plan does not work, a court could likely provide solutions to your issues and ensure that the children’s best interest is accounted for. Contact a New Jersey child custody modification lawyer today for more information on how the process works.