In the first installment of our two-part series on New Jersey Child Custody Laws, we discussed the different types of child custody in New Jersey, who is considered an unfit parent in New Jersey, and how courts determine what is in the best interests of a child. In this article, we explore additional aspects of New Jersey’s child custody laws. Specifically, we discuss modification of New Jersey child custody orders, whether a child can decide which parent they want to live with, and relocation issues.
Modification of New Jersey Child Custody Orders
Once a child custody order has been entered, this order becomes legally binding. However, New Jersey child custody orders are not set in stone. A parent can request a child custody order modification in certain circumstances. Generally, in New Jersey, a parent can seek child custody modification if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” Simply put, a substantial change in circumstances is a significant and material change that was unknown or unanticipated when the existing order was issued. Possible examples of substantial changes in circumstances include the following;
- A major relocation of a parent
- Permanent job loss
- Serious illness
- Alcohol or drug abuse of one parent
- A significant change in the work schedule of one parent
- Incarceration of a parent
- A significant change in the child’s needs
- A parent’s refusal to comply with the existing parenting time arrangement
Modifying a child support order is a complex process. For this reason, it is best to consult with an attorney.
Can a Child Decide Which Parent They Want to Live With?
An important question parents ask themselves during a divorce is whether New Jersey law allows children to decide which parent they want to live with. The court can consider the child’s preferences as one of the many factors when determining child custody. A child’s preference cannot be the only determining factor. Additionally, the weight the court will give a child’s preference may depend on their age, maturity, and the reasons for their choice. The more mature the child, the more weight the court may give to their preference.
One of the most complicated issues in child custody cases is relocation. Parents often wonder if they can relocate with their child after a New Jersey divorce. New Jersey allows parents to relocate with their children after a divorce. However, if a parent wants to move a minor child out of state or far enough across the state to cause an issue with the current custody arrangement, they must seek permission from the other parent or the courts. New Jersey courts make relocation decisions based on the child’s best interests. Some of the factors courts consider when making relocation decisions include the reason for the move, the child’s age, the impact of the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent, and the overall stability of the child’s life.
Child relocation matters can be complex, so it is vital to consult an attorney when considering relocating with a child after a divorce.
Contact a New Jersey Family Law Attorney
Our skilled New Jersey family law attorney at The Trabosh Law Firm is experienced in all aspects of New Jersey child custody laws. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need help with a child custody matter.