Child Custody Laws In NJ: Understanding A Material Change Of Circumstances

Children need consistency and a sense of permanence in their lives. This particularly is the case when children have been through the upheavals associated with the divorce of their parents.

Because of these realities, child custody orders are intended to provide a sense of stability in the lives of children. Designed to meet the best interests of children, custody orders cannot be altered or amended on a whim. The laws in all states require a significant alteration in the circumstances surrounding a child custody order to warrant making a change. Most jurisdictions refer to this as a material change of circumstances. If you have a situation in which there has been a material change of circumstances, you should consult a NJ child custody attorney.   

Definition of Material Change of Circumstances Under NJ Child Custody Laws

A material change of circumstances is an alteration in the facts and conditions associated with a custodial scheme or arrangement so significant that the existing plan no longer satisfies the best interests of the child. Minor issues associated with a custodial arrangement simply do not rise to the level of a material change warranting an alteration in the custody scheme, nor does a combination of minor issues. Determining whether a material change of circumstances has occurred requires a close examination of the facts of a particular case. There is no single evaluation that can be applied to all cases in which changing custody is an issue.

Examples of Material Change of Circumstances Under Child Custody Laws in NJ

Examples of material change of circumstances abound. A common example involves a situation in which the custodial parent experiences a profound life change that renders appropriately caring for children difficult if not impossible. A parent who develops a serious health condition or an addiction to mind-altering substances presents such an example. If the custodial parent desires to move out of state with the minor children, an argument could be formulated that this constitutes a material change of circumstances. There are situations in which a parent initially is granted custody of children because one parent is deemed unable to care for them at that juncture in time. In such a scenario, if the noncustodial parent's situation improves, that adjustment may be deemed a material change of circumstances justifying an amendment of an existing custody order.

Changing custody of minor children is a challenging endeavor, especially when trying to justify the change based on a subjective definition of a material change of circumstances. For this reason, a person interested in pursuing this type of change is encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced NJ child custody attorney. Some attorneys offer an initial consultation with a prospective client at no cost.

The Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen offers a free in office consultation. Mr. Van Aulen has been a divorce and family lawyer for over twenty-three years. Peter Van Aulen is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a matrimonial attorney. This certification has only been granted to a small percentage of New Jersey attorneys. If you have a child custody issue, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen today at (201) 845-7400 for a free consultation with a New Jersey child custody attorney.

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