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What Are New Jersey’s Rules Regarding Child Custody Modifications?

New Jersey family courts retain jurisdiction of the case and can make changes to existing court orders upon the petition of one or both of the parents. As children grow and circumstances change, there may be reason to modify a parenting plan or timesharing arrangement.

Ways to legally modify child custody in NJ

In New Jersey, there are two ways to modify a child custody order: through a consent order or by filing a motion. If the parties agree about the changes that should be made, they can present this agreement to the court to modify the existing court order. If the judge approves the change, the judge will enter the consent order. Since the parents are assumed to act in the best interests of their child, the judge will typically approve of the consent agreement.

If the parents do not agree about the change, the parent wanting to change the existing order can file a motion with the court to modify the order. To file this legal action, the parent must be able to show a substantial change in circumstances.

What is a substantial change in circumstances?

To meet this burden, you must be able to show the current custody schedule, the circumstances that have changed and the negative effect these circumstances have on the child’s best interests.

Possible examples of a substantial change in circumstances may include:

  • A major relocation of one or both parents
  • A child’s educational progress has been affected
  • There is abuse in the family
  • Remarriage of one of the parties or cohabitation with a romantic partner that affects the child
  • A parent has refused to comply with the existing parenting time agreement
  • A change in employment or work schedule
  • The child gets older and his or her needs change
  • Alcohol or drug abuse that occurs in the presence of the child

These are just a few examples. The family court will consider what custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests.

Factors New Jersey family courts consider when determining child custody

To determine what is in the child’s best interests, New Jersey family courts consider several factors, including:

  • Needs of the child
  • Safety of the child
  • Stability of the proposed home environment
  • Parents’ ability to communicate and work together with each other
  • Parents’ jobs and employment responsibilities
  • Parents’ relationship with the child before and after the divorce or separation
  • Child’s relationship with siblings
  • The current arrangements and the effect a change would have on the child
  • The quality of a child’s education
  • The child’s preference if old enough and mature enough to express it

Contact an experienced Freehold NJ family lawyer for help with your child custody modification

If you are considering a child custody modification, it is important that you have the assistance of a qualified family law attorney who can properly position you for petitioning for this change or challenging it. The stakes are high, and we will fight to protect the best interests of you and your children. At Lomurro Law, we can discuss your objectives and legal options. Contact us today at 732-482-9285 or fill out the online contact form to discuss your case with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney.