When parents go through a divorce, their main concern throughout the proceedings is generally the custody of their children. When a child custody agreement is established, it is done based on what is best for the child at the time. Once the agreement is made law, it must be followed otherwise it can be enforced by the court. However, the court also understands that life changes as time goes on and what once worked for a family may no longer be the case anymore. It is because of this that it is possible for a parent to petition the court to receive a modification of the arrangements. Continue reading below to learn more about this process.
When Can I Modify Custody Arrangements?
It is important for a parent to know that if they wish to have a custody arrangement modified, they cannot simply change it on their own. Instead, they must show to the court there is a good reason the modification is needed and a judge must approve it. The following are a variety of reasons as to why a modification may be requested:
- The child’s best interests. If a child is unhappy or their living situation is no longer working for them.
- The child is in danger. If a parent feels their child is in danger from their co-parent or another party close to them, or they have evidence of abuse or neglect, a petition can be filed for a modification in order to keep the child safe.
- Relocation. If a parent needs to move, whether it may be for work or family reasons, they may request to change the custody orders to bring their child with them.
- A parent cannot meet the needs of their child. If a parent is working to balance their life with a career or is going through unemployment, they may need to modify their custody agreement if they cannot do their best for the child.
- One parent is not cooperating. If one parent does not uphold their end of a custody agreement, a modification can be requested to change it.
- One parent passes away. If a parent passes away and the other parent does not want the child to be raised by a step-parent, they can seek full custody of their child.
How is Custody Modified?
When a parent wants to have their custody arrangements modified, it is best to begin by discussing the matter with the other co-parent. When parents are on good terms, they may be able to negotiate with one another to reach an agreement regarding changes to custody. While this may be done between the two of them or with the assistance of a mediator, the process must still result in the approval of the judge.
If parents are unable to work together, the individual who wants the modification can file a petition with the court. At their court date, they must convince the judge their reasoning to change the custody arrangement is necessary and in the child’s best interest. The judge can review the case and establish new custody orders if they decide to approve.
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If you require strong legal representation for matters related to divorce or family law, Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn is here to help. We proudly represent clients in Morris County and throughout the state of New Jersey. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.