During a divorce, coming to an agreement about custodial arrangements is often one of the most hotly contested issues between parties. Moreover, when subsequent changes need to be made to custodial arrangements because of changes in circumstances, things can get just as messy as they were when the arrangements were made in the first place. Before pursuing such changes, it is always important to consult with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney to ensure that you know your rights.
In a recent Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division decision, the court had to consider whether the defendant (Mother) would be allowed to take her children to visit extended family given their original custodial agreement. In the case at hand, the Mother moved to change her parenting time schedule so that she could bring their children to see their paternal grandparents. The plaintiff (Father) sought to restrain the Mother from doing this. The lower court sided with Father and denied Mother’s motion for reconsideration.
On appeal, the court stated that a party seeking to modify custody must demonstrate that the changed circumstances affect the welfare of the children. Furthermore, the appellate court found that the lower court erred in denying Mother an opportunity for reconsideration because she had met all of the requirements necessary for requesting a change by demonstrating a change in circumstances that would affect the welfare of her children. Because Mother demonstrated a change in circumstances, and Father failed to put forward credible reasons to bar his children from seeing their grandparents, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision.
Under New Jersey law, when courts assess issues involving one parent’s parenting time, they must consider what is in the child’s best interest in the context of their safety, happiness, and mental and moral welfare. To modify custody, the party seeking to make a change must show that circumstances have changed that would affect the welfare of the children involved.
To do so, the party must meet the initial threshold of a change in circumstances warranting a change in custodial arrangements. The judge must then consider whether the circumstances existed at the time of the original custody agreement. If so, there is not a “change in circumstances.” Once a change in circumstances has been established, then the court can consider whether the proposed changes are in the best interests of the child or children involved.
Do You Need a New Jersey Divorce Attorney?
If you need assistance with a divorce case or help making changes to a current custodial arrangement, contact The Law Office of Jeffrey R. Brown. Mr. Brown has over twenty years of experience diligently representing clients in all types of divorce, custody, and family law matters. All divorces cases, but especially those involving custodial arrangements for minor children, can be extremely complex and emotionally heated. Mr. Brown understands this reality, and makes every effort to ensure a smooth and seamless process. To schedule a consultation today, call us at 732-613-0066. You can also reach us through our online form.