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5 Most Common Situations in Which a New Jersey Change of Child Custody is Sought

An attempt to undertake a New Jersey change of child custody cannot be taken lightly. The law, the courts, and public policy dictate that child custody orders should not be altered or amended on a whim. Changes of this nature need to be made with deliberation and a focus on what ultimately is in the best interests of a child (which is discussed more fully in a moment).

There are certain situations that more often than not underpin an attempt to alter or amend child custody in the Garden State. Five of the most common prevailing circumstances that motivate a noncustodial parent to seek a New Jersey change of child custody are:

  • Parenting time violations
  • Parental neglect of abuse
  • Relocation
  • Substance abuse
  • Changes in life circumstances
Best Interests of a Child Standard

This legal concept, known as the best interests of the child standard, is the guideline used by courts to make decisions regarding custody and other issues concerning children whose parents are divorcing or have divorced. The purpose of this standard is to ensure that all decisions made by the court are derived from a focus on what will best protect and enhance the wellbeing of children. The best interests of a child standard is applied in New Jersey change of custody proceedings.

Parenting Time Violations

If one parent is consistently not adhering to the court-ordered parenting time schedule, this can be used as evidence in favor of changing custody. The court may consider any documented history of violations or noncompliance by the current custodial with court-ordered parenting time arrangements as evidence that an existing child custody arrangement should be changed.

Parental Neglect or Abuse

If the current custodial parent has been accused or found guilty of neglecting or abusing a child, this can constitute strong grounds for changing custody. It can be powerful evidence to support a request by the noncustodial parent to change custody in a particular case.


If the custodial parent is planning on relocating outside the area covered by their current court-mandated parenting plan, then a motion to change the existing custody scheme may be in order Any evidence that can be provided regarding plans for an upcoming move should be included when filing for such a change.

Substance Abuse

If a custodial parent is burdened with substance use disorder of some type, this can also warrant a New Jersey change of child custody. In these cases, medical records or reports from addiction treatment centers can serve as useful pieces of evidence. Witness testimony oftentimes is also a part of the evidence presented in this type of situation. The underlying argument is that, if the custodial parent has a substance abuse issue, the child or children are at risk. Maintaining the existing custody arrangement is not in the best interest of that child or those children.

Changes in Life Circumstances

Finally, any major changes that have taken place within the household of the custodial parent may lay the groundwork upon which a motion for a New Jersey change of child custody might be sought. Common examples of such changes include the custodial parent entering into a relationship with an intimate partner then moves into the residence. There are situations in which this new intimate partner has issues of a type that is perceived to jeopardize the wellbeing of the child or children. (The new intimate partner might have a substance abuse issue, for example.)

Process of Changing Child Custody in New Jersey

The process of changing child custody in New Jersey commences with the filing of a motion in the court that issued the existing child custody order. There are instances in which the parents ultimately agree to a custodial change. If the parents do not agree to a custody change, the court schedules a hearing on the motion. During the hearing, both parents are able to present evidence and make arguments in regard to their respective positions regarding the motion to change child custody. If you need a consultation, call 201 845-7400.

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Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances