It can be hard to find common ground in divorce cases, especially when it comes to child custody agreements. When two divorced or separated parents agree on custody, changing the agreement can be relatively easy. However, as with so many aspects of divorce, common ground can be hard to find. While changing custody agreements is far from easy, the right legal representation gives you the best chance to sway the court, even if only one of the parents agrees to the change. The right representation can be the difference maker in cases like these.
How Do I Change My Child Custody Agreement?
The first step to change the custody agreement is to file a motion with the court that authorized the divorce. Once a hearing is set, both parents will be notified, and together as a group, the judge and parents will determine how to go forward and what provides the healthiest environment for the child. However, most states have a one to two year waiting period after the initial custody agreement is in place before being able to request a change. This is to provide stability for the child, as well as allow a more accurate view of the parents’ lifestyles and homes. Some exceptions can be made as it relates to the child’s wellbeing.
If you want to change to the custody agreement, you must show the court that it will be in the child’s best interest: perhaps you have started a new career, bought your own property, or have shown significant progress in eliminating drug or alcohol use from your life. Legally, this is referred to as “material change in circumstances.” In other words, the party requesting the change to custody must have shown marked improvement or increased stability for the court to consider the change.
Additionally, the court must find that the change would be in the best interest of the child. Paramount to family court is the safety and wellbeing of the children, and therefore any change to the custody agreement must be in line with that child’s interests. A great way to show that you have changed is to spend lots of time with your child and maximize the time you do get. Be a stable, patient, mature figure in their life. This strengthens the foundation of your relationship with your child and shows the courts that you are actively engaged in your child’s life. Being engaged in your child’s life in a stable and positive way is the best way to help the courts understand your child needs more of you in their life.
Once a motion is filed and the other parent is served, a process of mediation involving a social worker and the other parent may occur. It should be the goal of the filing parent to come to an agreement with the other guardian or at least to establish the clear-cut case and reason for the hearing. At this point, a judge will hear evidence and arguments and decide whether to amend the custody agreement or keep it as is.
Read more: Top 10 Child Custody Questions
Contact a Moorestown Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Child Custody Agreement Change in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Cordy Hartman, LLC represent clients throughout the state, including Burlington and Camden Counties. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at 856-452-4474 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 505 South Lenola Road, Suite 224, Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.