Modification of Child Custody

Family Law Attorney Serving Bergen County and Beyond

Even after a child custody order is final, there are times when a modification may be desirable or even necessary. If you find yourself in a situation in which your current child custody arrangement is unworkable or in need of fine tuning contact Bergen County child custody lawyer Brian D. Iton for advice and representation. Mr. Iton can help you present you pursue a modification and protect your interests throughout the legal process.

Pursuing a Modification of a Child Custody Order

Because we live in extremely mobile, ever-changing times the need to modify a child custody order is not uncommon. Parents may experience significant changes in their lives after divorce: new jobs, employment relocations, and new relationships. In addition, as children grow older, their needs and desires can change greatly from what they were when they were young. These changes can render a previously existing order unworkable. Fortunately, there are several ways to modify an order if necessary.

The least problematic way to modify a child custody order is by the mutual consent of the parents. When parents truly put their children first, they will often make every effort to create a workable solution to a child custody arrangement when an existing arrangement is no longer feasible.

If the parents can work out an amicable agreement that modifies an existing order, they need to put the new agreement in writing and send it to the court for the judge’s review and signature. This is called a consent order. The modification should be as detailed as the original agreement, and it should specifically state that the new arrangement supersedes and replaces all prior agreements on file with the court. If both parents signify their approval by signing the new agreement, a judge will review and sign the order, and the modified agreement will be the new child custody order.

By contrast, if the parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, they will need to engage in a formal modification proceeding, usually in the same court that issued the existing custody order. Even in formal court proceedings, in most cases, the court will first require the parents to undergo mediation. Essentially, the court wants parents to try to work things out before forcing the court to act. At mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) has the job of facilitating the negotiation. If the parties cannot reach an agreement through mediation, the next step is either a custody and parenting time evaluation, or a formal hearing at which the court will make a final determination.

When only one party is seeking a modification, a court will only grant the modification if circumstances are sufficiently changed such that it is warranted. Simple inconvenience is an insufficient ground for a modification. However, changed circumstances, like a long-distance move, are often sufficient to warrant modification.

The “best interests of the child” is the applicable standard in child custody cases, and this applies to the modification process as well. A parent seeking a modification must demonstrate that the changed circumstances would adversely affect the child if the order is not modified, as well as show that the desired modification will promote the child’s best interests.

Retain a Bergen County Lawyer for a Child Custody Matter

To find out more about the legal requirements and implications of seeking a child custody modification, schedule a free appointment with Bergen County child custody attorney Brian D. Iton. He can be reached at (201) 731-3086 or toll-free at (844) 431-3380, or you can use our online contact form to set up your consultation. Brian D. Iton represents people who need a family law attorney in Hackensack, Paterson, Newark, Jersey City, and the surrounding communities throughout Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Passaic Counties.