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Can I Modify a Custody Agreement in New Jersey?

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Can I Modify a Custody Agreement in New Jersey?

When parents go through a divorce, they are required to settle many matters regarding their children before moving forward. An important matter during this time, arguably the most important, is child custody. Once a child custody agreement is made, both parents are required to abide by it, as it is the law. However, the court also understands that family circumstances can change overtime and a custody arrangement may no longer work for them. When this happens, a modification can be requested to change the arrangement. Continue reading below to learn more about how this can be done.

When Can I Modify Custody Arrangements?

When a parent wants to modify a custody agreement, they are required to petition the court for approval. It is important to know that they cannot change the agreement on their own. To receive approval, the parent must prove there is a reason that calls for it, such as:

  • The child’s best interests. If a child is unhappy or their living situation no longer works for them.
  • The child is in danger. If there is suspicion a co-parent may put the child in danger or there is abuse/neglect.
  • Relocation. If a parent needs to move and wants to bring their child with them.
  • A parent cannot meet the needs of their child. If a parent’s life circumstances make it hard to support their child the way they need.
  • One parent is not cooperating. If parents have joint custody but one does not follow the agreement.
  • One parent passes away. If a parent dies and the other parent does not want a new spouse to raise their child, they can seek full custody. 

How is Custody Modified?

To receive a modification, parents should first speak with one another regarding the matter. In many cases, parents are able to work out a new agreement with one another or with the assistance of guided mediation. While this is true, it is important to note that they must still have the changes approved by the court. 

In the event that parents cannot agree with one another regarding custody, a petition for modification can be filed to begin the process with the court. During this time, the parent must prove to the judge that a modification is in the best interest of the child. The judge can evaluate the case to determine if it is necessary and create a new order if they approve the motion.

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