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5 Reasons Why a Child Might be Able to Seek a New Jersey Change in Custody

While not a commonplace occurrence, there are isolated situations in which a minor child might be able to seek a New Jersey change in custody. Through this article, we provide you with a general overview of basic information about New Jersey change in custody and five circumstances in which a child might be in a position to attempt to seek an alteration in a custodial arrangement.

When a New Jersey Court Considers a Child’s Custodial Preferences

When it comes to determining a child's preference in a New Jersey custody case, there are some guidelines that need to be followed by the court. Generally, children who are 12 years of age or older can express their preference regarding their custodial arrangement with the court directly if they choose to do so. However, if the child is younger than 12, an attorney may be appointed as an advocate on behalf of the child in order to make sure their wishes are heard and considered by the court. Additionally, when determining whether or not a child is mature enough to express his or her preferences, courts will consider various factors such as age and level of maturity.

Appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem

When a child seeks to have a court consider the state of custody in a case, that court can appoint a legal representative for that minor who is known as a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the court to act as an independent advocate for a minor or legally incompetent individual. The role of a GAL is to investigate the facts of the case, represent the best interests of their ward, and to report their findings and recommendations to the court.

Best Interests of a Child Standard

The best interests of the child standard is a legal principle that guides decisions made in matters of child custody. The standard states that all decisions made must consider what is best for a child's physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. The best interests standard is used to evaluate all relevant factors when assigning parental rights in regard to the care and upbringing of a minor, such as age, gender, mental and physical health, the ability of each parent to provide economic stability and emotional support, religion and culture.

Inadequate Time Provided by Custodial Parent

One grounds upon which a minor child might be able to seek an alteration in a custody order is when the custodial parent lacks the time necessary to properly tend to the needs of that minor. A New Jersey change in custody may be warranted when sought by a child in a situation in which an allegation that some level of neglect is occurring persuades the court to make such an alteration.

Abuse Perpetrated by Parent

Unfortunately, some parents engage in physical or verbal abuse towards their children. The child may then feel unsafe in their current environment and want to switch custody so that they will no longer be subjected to this kind of mistreatment.

Unstable Home Environment

If a demonstration is made that the custodial parent fails to maintain a stable home environment, a minor child may be able to seek a New Jersey change in custody. If one parent is able to provide a more stable living situation for the child, a court might alter the custodial arrangement.

Interfering with Parenting Time

If the custodial parent is interfering with a child’s parenting time with the other parent, the child conceivably could seek a change in custody. Courts take a dim view of a parent undermining the relationship a minor child has with the other parent.

Poor Living Conditions

If the custodial parent is unable to provide adequate living conditions for a minor child, this also could be the foundation upon which a child might seek a change in custody. Specifically, a child might desire to seek a change in custody if basic needs cannot be met by one parent as opposed to the other.

In conclusion, there are a variety of different reasons why a child might seek a change in custody. As noted at the outset, this is not a commonplace occurrence. However, there can be circumstances when such an alteration of an existing child custody order is pursued by a child and ends up being granted because it is in that minor’s best interests. If you have any questions call (201) 845-7400.

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