How Custodial Rights are Affected when a Parent Moves in with New Partner

Often times the greatest challenge involved in divorces is the issue of custody of the children of the marriage. Family Court judges will always place one primary concern at the heart of their assessment of custody issues: the best interest of the child or children. Situations change over time after a divorce, and at times what was in the best interest of the child at the time of the original custody agreement might not be so as circumstances change after a divorce.

When one parent becomes romantically involved with a new partner, and especially when the new partners begin living together, it is not uncommon for the other parent to consider this change of circumstance harmful to the child and apply for a modification of the custody agreement. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent in such a situation, it is essential that you are represented by an experienced divorce and family law attorney to help you navigate these challenging issues.

Change of Circumstance

In order for a Family Court judge to consider altering a child custody agreement she or he must determine that there is a change of circumstance which is deemed potentially harmful to the best interests of the child. The mere fact of a custodial parent moving in with a new partner does not qualify. The judge will consider the age of the child or children, the environment to which the child will be exposed, and depending on the age of the child, what the child him or herself desires.

Difficult choice

Best Interests of the Child

There is no standard or fixed formula for determining a child’s best interests. A judge will listen to testimony, sometimes hear from experts, but ultimately that decision will be his or hers to make. When deciding whether living with your new partner negatively affects the child’s best interests, the judge is likely to consider a child’s age, the character of the partner, and other considerations. A consultation with one of our divorce and family law attorneys will help you to ensure that your rights and the best interests of your child are protected.

A Child’s Right

The State of New Jersey particularly recognizes that parenting time is a child’s right. This right is a major factor the judge will consider when evaluating of a change in circumstance should lead to a modified custody agreement. It is not merely the parent’s right to see his or her child that is considered, but first and foremost, the child’s right to spend time with each parent.

Ideally parenting plans can be worked out without requiring a court order. Mediators are sometimes engaged for this purpose. Whether working out an agreement outside of court, or whether contesting a custody motion in court, one of the experienced divorce attorneys at Maselli Warren can make sure that your rights are protected and your child’s best interests are safeguarded.