Modifying custody arrangements in New Jersey

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Uncategorized

If you and your co-parent are struggling to make existing custody arrangements work, or if a major change such as a new job or a relocation disrupted what used to be working custody arrangements, one or both of you might want to have your current custody arrangements changed.

Can you do so on your own, and if not, can you get the court to change it in your favor?

Modifying your custody arrangements on your own

Sometimes co-parents get along well enough to recognize when their custody arrangements are no longer working, and they can agree on what changes should be made.

New Jersey law permits parents to modify custody arrangements on their own. But, to make the new arrangements legally enforceable, they need to be approved by the court.

The court will only approve modified custody arrangements if they serve the child’s best interests. Arrangements that might make life more convenient for parents but would be detrimental to the child’s well-being or would otherwise unduly disrupt the child’s routine might not be approved.

Seeking a court modification

If you and your co-parent cannot agree on how to modify your current custody arrangements or disagree on whether they should be modified at all, a parent can move the court to issue an order modifying your current custody arrangements.

First, the parent seeking a modification must prove to the court that there must be a substantial change in circumstances since the existing order went into effect.

If the court is satisfied that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, a hearing will be held to determine whether modifying the current custody arrangements is in the best interests of the child. The same best interests factors used when issuing the current child custody order will be used when modifying these arrangements.

Best interests are paramount

Co-parenting can be challenging even in the best of circumstances. For some co-parents, custody arrangements that initially looked good on paper might not be working so well in practice, and you want to either modify them yourself or seek a court order doing so.

In either case, existing custody arrangements will only be approved by the court if doing so is in the best interests of the child. The child’s needs come first when it comes to modifying custody arrangements, despite what may simply be convenient for the parents.

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