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Modifying Child Custody in New Jersey | What to Know

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Child custody is one of the most important decisions to make during a divorce. But, what works at one moment of time, may not work later on. If you are interested in modifying your custody agreement, read on for more information.

How is Custody Determined?

There are many factors that go into determining custody. In order to make the best decision for the child, A New Jersey court will examine the following factors:

  • Each party’s ability to provide stability
  • Whether the parent will act in the child’s best interests
  • The relationship between the child and the parent
  • The physical health and safety of the child
  • The needs of the child
  • The location and proximity of each parent’s home
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age

When Can I Modify Custody Arrangements?

When a parent wants to modify a custody agreement, he or she is required to petition the court for approval. It is important to know that parents cannot change the agreement on their own. Child custody has been determined to suit the child’s needs and interests. Additionally, modifying custody can be difficult for a child. As a result, 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 Can I Modify Custody?

In New Jersey, there are two ways to alter a previously established custody agreement:

  • Consented order
    • You and your ex-spouse can create and sign a document stating that you desire to modify your custody arrangement in terms of child support, visitation rights, etc.
  • Modification order
    • If you find that you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a modification, you can file a motion with the courts to review your case and modify your existing child custody agreement. To do this, you must be able to prove that circumstances since your divorce have substantially changed and your custody agreement needs to be modified to account for these changes.

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