A growing number of divorced fathers in New Jersey want to be named as either the custodial parent or a co-parent of their children. But this is not always practical or possible, especially if dad travels a good deal for his work.
Still, it is not uncommon for fathers to come back to us some time after we handled their divorce to ask about changing the custody order or visitation schedule laid out in the final decree.
Recently, a dad called me to ask about changing his situation and that of his children regarding custody and visitation. Roughly speaking, he asked this of me:
“I’ve been divorced several years and want to change the custody and time I can spend with my children because my ex is changing jobs and moving. Is this difficult to do and what is involved?”
Best Interests of Children of Divorced New Jersey Fathers
To modify custody orders and parenting time, you must show that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances that warrant modifying the original decree.
If your ex is moving to another town in New Jersey, she does not need the court’s permission. But if the move means going to another state, you can file an application with the court to block the move if you can prove that it is not in the best interests of the children – the court’s overriding concern.
In considering a motion to change custody and parenting time or issues around relocating, the court looks at a number of other factors, as well:
- The fitness of each parent to raise the child
- The age and number of children
- The needs of each child
- The parent’s ability to communicate and cooperate with each other regarding the child
- How the child interacts with the parents and their siblings
- How much time each parent spent with the child before and after the divorce
- Any history of a parent not allowing parenting time other than because of abuse
- Any history of domestic violence that endangers the safety of the child or the other parent
- For older children, their ability to express their wishes
- The stability of the home where the non-custodial parent wants the child to live or spend more time
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education
- How close will a child be to each parent’s home after a move
- The employment responsibility of each parent
A change in the distance between the homes of the two parents can be what a court considers a “substantial change” that might justify modifying the original custody or parenting time order.
Even though the client’s ex-wife is the custodial parent, since the children divide their time between the two of them equally, we would have to prove that it will be in the children’s best interest to stay where they currently live if she is planning to move out of state.
Custody and Relocation Questions Are Complex in New Jersey
Questions involving child custody and relocation are very complex. If you are a divorced father in New Jersey, feel free to contact one of our divorce and custody lawyers at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair at 862.245.4620.
Divorced dads and those contemplating a divorce are invited to participate in our Custody and Support Group for Fathers. You do not need to be a client to join the group.