Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody in New Jersey
Nothing is more important than the well-being of your children, and Katherine K. Wagner, Attorney at Law in Somerville is dedicated to helping parents maintain strong bonds with their sons and daughters. If you’re ending a relationship with your co-parent or are looking to change an existing custody order, Ms. Wagner will address your questions and concerns, which might include:
- Can my spouse and I agree who gets custody of the children when we get divorced?
- How does a court decide child custody if my spouse and I don’t agree?
- Can a child custody order be modified later if circumstances change?
- If I have custody of my child can I move?
When parents cooperate and agree to custody terms, it usually creates a strong foundation for the years ahead. Though the court is the ultimate decision-maker, it is very likely that the judge will formalize your custody settlement and incorporate it into your order. Parents understand their children best and can craft a plan that reflects their child’s unique needs when establishing terms for legal authority, residence and visitation. Working with an experienced divorce attorney will help you understand how to develop a reliable parenting plan and identify ways to overcome obstacles standing in the way of a comprehensive custody agreement.
Sometimes, parents cannot reach consensus on custody arrangements. In these situations the judge must make a decision based on what he or she believes to be in the child’s best interests. Any relevant information can be used as part of the process, but factors the judge must consider include each party’s fitness as a parent, the child’s educational needs, any parental history of domestic violence and the parties’ ability to cooperate and communicate on matters relating their child.
Yes, the needs of children and parents often change significantly after the entry of an initial custody order. Should parties agree on revisions to the parenting plan, they can submit the proposed consent order to the court. Unless the judge finds the requested modification is against the child’s best interests, the change should be approved without much hassle. Modifications are more difficult when parents disagree on the requested adjustment. In these cases, the petitioning party has to demonstrate that a substantial change in circumstance has occurred and that revising the custody order is in the child’s best interests.
Custodial parents who seek to move because of a job change, family medical issue or some other reason must be aware of the effect on their co-parent’s ability to spend time with the child they share. In these cases, the relocating mother or father must either obtain consent from their former partner or authorization from the court. Contested relocation cases can be highly complex and emotional, with judges evaluating the reason for the move, how the relocation will affect the child and the feasibility of revising visitation arrangements. Whether you’re looking to relocate or oppose your co-parent’s attempt to move with your child, you should consult a qualified family lawyer.