Although you may have negotiated, or the Court ordered, a certain parenting time schedule with your minor children at the time of your divorce, circumstances and other things may change, causing the need for modification. You may have actually been exercising additional time not listed in your agreement, or you may feel that the children would benefit from being with you for more extended periods of time. Whatever the reason, you may decide that you want to revise your current agreement. A lawyer can help determine if it is possible to make any modifications.
Formalize Any Child Custody Amendment
One of the most effective means to get additional time with your minor children is to negotiate directly with the other parent. If the other parent agrees to your proposed changes to the parenting time schedule, it should be memorialized in writing. The child custody agreement is part of the Court’s order, and an oral agreement to a change may not be enforceable. Thereafter, you should amend the child custody agreement in writing and file it with the Court, where the Judge will review it and can officially amend the order.
A Court Could Order a Modification After Your Petition
If your co-parent does not agree to your proposed modification, you can take your case to Court by way of motion practice. However, it is not always easy to persuade the Judge to order a modification to the custody agreement. You would need to argue that there was a substantial change in circumstances to persuade the Judge to grant the modification. You have the burden of proof to show that the circumstances warrant the modification. It is not necessarily impossible to persuade the Court to give you more parenting time, however, family court recognizes that it is in the best interest of children to have both parents actively involved in their lives. You could very well get additional time with the children if you can prove that there is justification for same.
The Best Interests Standard Controls a Possible Modification
In considering a motion for modification of an existing Order or agreement, a Judge will weigh the best interests of the minor children. The standard is a flexible one that allows the Judge to consider a multitude of factors before issuing a ruling. The Court makes decisions on a case-by-case basis. It could be that the Judge believes that more time with the parent seeking a change could benefit the children. This may be a bigger factor as the children get older, and they need steady guidance and mentoring from both parents. Or the Court may not want to disturb an arrangement that the children have grown accustomed to or subject them to additional movement between the parents. Your lawyer can assist in demonstrating to the Judge that more time with you will be best for the children.
The experienced Somerville divorce lawyers at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC, ensure their clients’ rights are protected, whether settlement is reached, or litigation is necessary. Call us at 908-800-7676 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
Located in Somerville, New Jersey, our attorneys serve clients throughout Central New Jersey, including those in Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Warren County, Morris County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, Union County, and Middlesex County.