Custody in New Jersey

New Jersey laws in the area of child custody were created around the premise that the best interest of the child or children is of paramount concern. As you can imagine, making a best interest determination can be a daunting task for a court. Indeed, some courts specifically tell parents that they are the last one that should be making custody decisions. In making such a statement Courts are saying that collaboration and consent is generally the best approach to resolving custody disputes. Nonetheless, when parties cannot agree, a court will render a decision.

Modification of a Custody Arrangement

To modify a custody arrangement through court the party seeking the change must first show a substantial change in circumstances.  For example, one party may have a change in work schedule that makes the current arrangement untenable. Alternatively, one parent may have developed drug or alcohol problems that prevent them from being able serve in a role as a caretaker. Another example would be if a child was diagnosed with a particular condition that somehow interfered with a custody arrangement. While there is no set list of what does and what does not constitute a substantial change in circumstances the general rule is that the change must be of such magnitude so as to warrant a modification of the arrangement.

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Once a party has shown a change in circumstances the next step is to determine what is in the best interest of the child.  This will require the parties to argue why their proposed custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. It is important to remember that the best interests argument only applies after the first prong of showing a substantial change in circumstances has been met.

Custody disputes can contain a virtual minefield of legal issues. If you need assistance with modifying a custody arrangement contact the Law Office of Matthew B. Lun, Esq. for a free consultation.