ANNOUNCEMENT: Please note that our staff here at Iacullo Martino are dedicated to your legal needs and available during this difficult time. In order to do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we will be conducting virtual meetings with both new and existing clients. To speak to an attorney, please click HERE. To help ease the burden of current circumstances, all consultations will be free. Please take care and be safe.

How difficult is it to modify a custody arrangement?

When couples are going through a divorce, each of the many decisions they make will impact their future. Along with the financial concerns that arise from the splitting of marital assets and planning for life after divorce, when there are children, the parents must also negotiate custody, parenting time and child support.

After the divorce is final, however, the circumstances of one or both parents may change which may later require a modification of the existing divorce settlement. Whether it is due to a change of location, a different job, or a new relationship, this post-divorce litigation must take place to make the changes necessary that will allow all parties to have the accommodations they need.

Post-decree modification in New Jersey

In New Jersey, to make a modification of an existing court order, the ex-spouse must be able to show that there has been a substantial change in their circumstances. Regarding child support or custody, the primary consideration will be what is in the best interest of the child.

Reasons for a modification may include:

  • One parent’s move out of state
  • A change in cost of living that is affecting the custodial parent’s ability to meet the child’s financial needs
  • A job loss that is negatively impacting one parent’s quality of life or ability to fulfill financial responsibility
  • Termination of child support
  • A change in custody, request for more parenting time, or a change in parenting plans

Although these are just a few of the scenarios that may come up down the road, it is important to understand the legal process and seek informed advice on the best way to proceed.

The best interests of the child

In modification requests, the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child regarding changes to visitation, parenting schedules or custodial arrangements. Some factors the judge will consider for a move out of state include:

  • The reasons for the move, as well as the other parent’s arguments against the request
  • Whether the child will have access to a similar standard of educational, health and recreational opportunities that they currently have
  • If the move and visitation schedule will allow the noncustodial parent to maintain a relationship with the child
  • The child’s preference if of the age of maturity

It may be difficult for one parent to be able to change a custody order if the other parent objects to it, so the relocating parent must show that the move will require a modification that is in the best interests of the child.