New Jersey courts are committed to the principle that children of separated parents should be imbued with love and respect for both parents, and where children are in the custody of one parent, the court should endeavor to effect this facet of the children’s welfare by conferring reasonable rights of visitation on the other parent.
Once an child visitation arrangement is in place, modification is appropriate only when there is a change in circumstances warranting it, i.e., a development that affects the welfare of the child.
The primary consideration in a case involving custody or parenting time is the best interest of the child. The best-interest standard focuses on the safety, happiness, physical, mental and moral welfare of the child.
The relocation of a child by the residential custodial parent from one location in New Jersey to another may have a significant impact upon the relationship between the child and the non-residential custodial parent that may constitute a substantial change of circumstances warranting modification of the custodial and parenting-time arrangement.
Resolution of parenting time disputes must be dictated exclusively by concern for the child’s best interests and not by the conflicting desires of the parents.
In implementing the best-interest-of-the-child standard, courts rely heavily on the expertise of psychologists and other mental health professionals.
Where a child is a well-adjusted and there is no reason to believe that the child could not cogently express his or her views, the court may interview the child and considered the child’s wishes before modifying a parenting schedule.
Custody and visitation by a parent may be judicially restricted in certain instances in order to safeguard the child’s interests; i.e., custody and visitation may be restricted, or even terminated, where the relation of one parent (or even both) with the child could cause emotional or physical harm to the child.
The amount of parenting time may have an effect on the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation. While support cannot be increased because a parent accepts little or no parenting time, the Child Support Guidelines permit reduction of the support obligation of a non-custodial spouse who exceeds traditional parenting time.
When a party violates an order pertaining to parenting time, economic sanctions may be imposed. These sanctions may include costs associated with the parent’s failure to comply with a court order. Where there was a finding of a willful violation of a court order demonstrated by a deliberate interference with a non-custodial parent’s right to visitation/parental access, the interfering parent may be sentenced to a period of incarceration.
To discuss your specific situation, please call me, Paul G. Kostro, Esq., to schedule an appointment: 908-232-6500 or Paul@Kostro.com
The following Blog Posts may be of help: Child Visitation