The process of setting a custody arrangement is often very thorough. Therefore, the justification for a requested modification must be compelling. There are different things that a person can do to increase his or her chances of succeeding in a modification request.
When submitting a modification application, a parent will need to submit a motion requesting the changes, along with an order that details the requested changes and all relevant documents relating to the previous custody case. It is important to put together an organized and compelling case from the outset. New Jersey family law judges are extremely busy and they want to be convinced very quickly that there is solid evidence supporting the request for modification. A parent has a better chance at success if everything is clearly presented, including the financial documentation that supports a request for modification of support payments.
The different types of custody modifications requests that can be made include:
- A motion to change the custody arrangement for a minor child;
- A motion to change the visitation or parenting arrangement for a minor child;
- A motion to enforce a parent’s rights under a previous agreement, including custody, visitation, or support orders;
- A motion to relocate children;
- A motion for the modification of support payments; and
- Cross-motions relating to a motion filed by the other parent.
When pursuing a modification request, it is important to maintain copies of all records that are submitted to the court in order to reproduce the record if it becomes necessary.
Before beginning the formal process of requesting that the court become involved in the parties’ dispute, it is recommended that parents attempt to amicably resolve the issues between each other. Although this may not be successful, it does demonstrate good faith to the court. Of course, if violence has led to a need for the modification of the custody agreement, then this step should be skipped.
Some of the reasons for a parent to request a modification to the custody agreement include:
- The custody agreement no longer is in the best interest of the child – A court will not create a disruption in the life of a child if the current agreement appears to satisfy the best interest standard. Therefore, a parent will need to compile compelling evidence to convince the judge to alter the agreement under this standard.
- The child is in imminent danger if the custody agreement remains in place – The danger to the child may be based on domestic violence that is happening in one parent’s home or in the home where the child spends a lot of time when in the custody of one parent. The judge will need to see evidence that the danger to the child is immediate. This is one of the times where the judge may speak with the child to determine if the child expresses any unwillingness to spend time in the home of one of the parents.
- One parent has a compelling reason to relocate – When one parent has a strong reason to move to a distant location, the judge will evaluate the parent’s motivation, whether it is still possible to have a reasonable visitation schedule, and whether the relocation would be in the best interest of the child.
- A failure of one parent to comply with the terms of the custody and visitation agreement – The judge will review the reasons behind non-compliance with the current agreement and whether there was any effective communication between the parents.
Although these are the most frequent reasons for the modification request, the death of a custodial parent creates a basis for a modification to be entered on an expedited schedule.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC Works Hard to Get Parents the Best Possible Custody Plan
When going through changes in the custody or visitation agreement, it is important to remain calm, present the most compelling evidence, and always place the best interests of the child at the forefront of the application. The skilled and dedicated New Jersey divorce and custody attorneys at The Micklin Law Group, LLC advocate zealously on behalf of their clients in order to get the results that provide the optimal environment for the children. To discuss your case, please call us at (973) 562-0100.