In all cases where custody and/or parenting time is an issue, the New Jersey Court Rules require the Judge to refer the all parties to mediation through the Court to address these issues. If that mediation is unsuccessful, the parties may participate in Custody Neutral Assessment, or a Custody Evaluation. If the parties are unable to arrive at an agreement between themselves after these evaluations are completed, the Court will determine the Custody and Parenting Time Arrangement.
Once an Order is entered regarding custody and parenting time, either by the Court or with the consent of the parties, that Order will control. However, a modification of a custody and parenting time Order is permitted in certain circumstances.
In order to modify a custody and parenting time Order, the party seeking the modification must first establish that circumstances have changed since the custody and parenting time order was first entered, and that that, as a result of that change, the present Custody and Parenting Time Order is not in the child(ren)’s best interests.
Otherwise stated, the party seeking to modify must prove three things: 1) the current parenting time arrangement, 2) the change in circumstances that occurred after the initial Order was entered, and 3) the new circumstance has made current parenting time arrangement contrary to the children’s best interests.
Although modifications are permitted to Custody and Parenting Time Orders, you should consult with a divorce attorney at the outset of your case to help negotiate your Custody and Parenting Time Agreement.