You already put a lot of time, thought and effort into creating the best possible child custody agreement. Life does not always stay the same though, and recent life changes might also necessitate changes to your custody agreement.
There are several situations that might require a modification. If you are curious about modification, chances are that you are already dealing with one or more of these issues. However, as with all matters involving child custody, you should be certain that your desire to modify your current agreement is because it is in your child’s best interests.
Problems with pick up and drop off
Whether you share joint custody with your ex or have a visitation schedule, pick up and drop off times are very important. By being prompt and always showing up on time you are providing a sense of consistency and normalcy for your child. However, if your ex regularly shows up late or does not show up at all, it could be harming your child.
Your first step before moving for a modification is to speak to your child’s other parent about his or her behavior. If he or she is unwilling to make changes and show up regularly, it might be time to petition for a modification. You could choose to ask for a modification that would work better with your ex’s schedule, or you could push for primary physical custody of your child.
Problems with important decisions
Parents who do not share joint physical custody often still share joint legal custody. Legal custody gives parents the ability to make important decisions on behalf of their children. Topics that parents typically address with legal custody include:
- Health care
Unfortunately, some parents are still eager to fight with their ex-spouses even after divorce. If your ex purposely makes these types of decisions difficult or frequently goes back on what you previously agreed, a modification could be in order. Again, working it out amongst yourselves is the first step, but if you are unable to do so, then you should not hesitate to take things to court to protect your child’s best interests.
Is it time for a change?
Not all changes are bad. Maybe your child is older and would like the opportunity to spend more time at his or her other parent’s house, or perhaps living with you full time would allow him or her to more easily participate in afterschool activities. Sometimes custody modifications are simply to make life easier for everyone.
You might feel tempted to take matters into your own hands by simply skipping visitations or changing arrangements on your own. Unfortunately, failing to follow a child custody order is a serious issue and can have legal consequences. Petitioning the court for a child custody modification is generally the best course of action for New Jersey parents in this situation.