Child custody is one of the most important decisions to make during a divorce. However, over time, you may realize you need to modify that plan.
To legally change your child custody orders in New Jersey, there are a few steps you need to take.
Identify a substantial change in circumstances
If you want to change the existing order, you must show a substantial change in the child’s circumstances or needs. This could include relocations, financial issues, abuse, remarriage or your ex not complying with the established orders. An unhappy child can also count as a substantial change, but in the end, it is up to the family court to determine if your reasoning is sufficient.
Negotiate with the other parent
If you are on good terms with your child’s other parent, privately negotiating with them might be the best place to start. Mediation is faster, less stressful and less expensive than going through the court system. It can also minimize resentment moving forward.
File a motion
If you cannot reach an agreement on your own, you can file a motion for a judge to decide what is best for your child. It will be fairly easy to convince the judge if your ex has violated the terms of the original custody order, but otherwise, you will have to make a good case for the modification. Emphasize your child’s needs and how they have changed since the initiation of the original order. Otherwise, the judge will not sign off on the adjustment.
Legally changing your child’s custody plan can help protect you from future custody issues.