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Change of Custody Requires Change of Circumstances

Change of Custody Requires Change of Circumstances

In a father’s motion for change of custody, the NJ Appellate Division upheld the NJ Superior Court’s decision in finding that a subsequent divorce of the parent of primary residence combined with the expressed preference of the child to live with his father and the fact that the child would be changing schools as a result of the mother’s divorce did not give rise to a change of circumstances warranting oral argument or a plenary hearing for change of custody. The court, in Brower v. Brower, held that the issues raised were not “substantive issues” giving rise to the need for a hearing. The child had resided with his mother since the parties’ divorce in 2004. The father, parent of alternate residence, did not demonstrate that there would be any harm to the child by continuing to reside with his mother. However, the Court did appoint a parenting coordinator to resolve issues as to parenting time, finding the father should have additional parenting time with the child. Additionally, although the father claimed that the child expressed a preference that he live with his father, the judge refused to have an in camera interview with the 12 year old child at the father’s request. A change of custody requires that the movant meet certain burdens of proof and, if met, the opposing party has to demonstrate either that the change is negligible or that, in spite of the change, custody is best left as it exists. If you are considering filing a motion for a change of custody or parenting time, you consult an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights. For more information on divorce, dissolution, parenting time, visitation, child support or other family law matters in New Jersey, visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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