Modification of a child custody agreement is not a matter taken lightly by any court. If both parties are in agreement regarding the change, then an oral agreement is acceptable. However, it is always advisable to place any type of custody agreement or change in writing with the signatures of all parties involved.
If the parties are not in agreement, then the requesting party must be able to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that changes have taken place, directly affect the well-being and safety of a child. The child’s best interests will always remain the heart of any custody agreement. Judge’s do not easily or readily grant child custody modifications without good reason.
According to New Jersey law, a modification to a custody agreement will only be considered when a substantial and unanticipated change has taken place. This means that the change the modification request stems from must not have been reasonably anticipated in any way when the original agreement was entered. This can include residential location changes, mental or physical health status of either the child or parent, living conditions or lack of stability just to name a few. The change must be substantial, meaning that is it negatively affecting the child in one way or another.
Parties who attempt to use custody modification as a means of manipulation when upset with the other parent usually do not fare well in court. This can, and does, happen often in courts around the country, which is the reason for such strict guidelines across the board on modification approval.
Speaking with an attorney can offer guidance on the likelihood of a Judge granting your petition for modification based on your individual circumstances. Child custody issues are never easy; however, it is possible to work through tem, reaching a workable resolution that focuses on the best interests of the child.