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When can a custody order be modified in New Jersey?

If you are divorced, your life has likely changed since the divorce became final. Since that time, you may have remarried, changed jobs or experienced other significant changes. If you have children, you may find that your custody order is no longer a good fit for your or your child's life. Fortunately, the custody order can be modified in two ways in New Jersey.

By consent

The easiest way to change the custody order in New Jersey occurs if both parents agree to do so. Basically this involves having your attorney draft up a new order specifying the changes. Once written, both parents sign the order and submit it to the court. Once a judge has read the order and signed it, the new terms become official and enforceable.

By modification proceedings

If you and your ex-spouse cannot reach an agreement, it is necessary to go to court to have the custody order changed. In this case, the parent requesting custody must prove that a significant "change of circumstances" has occurred since the original custody order became effective. The question of what constitutes a significant change of circumstances is a complicated one, but some qualifying examples include:

· Abuse or neglect of the child

· Drug or alcohol abuse by either parent

· Job relocations

· Medical issues

· Job loss or promotion

If you are able to prove that a significant change of circumstances occurred, the court will order that the existing custody order be modified to reflect the changes.

Since modifying a custody order can be a difficult process, it is important to have experienced legal representation to protect your interests. The experienced family law attorneys at Schepisi & McLaughlin, P.A. can assist you in obtaining a new custody order that takes into account the best interests of your children.

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