Sunday, March 10, 2013
Custody Change Children Prefer Different Parents
A father appealed the denial of his Motion for a change in custody of the parties' daughter. The father sought to change the primary residence of the parties' 15 year old daughter from the mother's residence to his own. The parties have 2 children, one boy and one girl, together and the father enjoyed liberal visitation as long as he resided within 20 miles of the mother, who was named parent of primary residence in the Property Settlement Agreement. The father moved outside the 20 mile radius and the mother's motion to reduce the father's parenting time was granted. The daughter specifically expressed her interest in residing with her father rather than her mother. The child advised that her interest in the custody change was based on concerns about her mother's parenting methods. Additionally, there was a parenting coordinator assigned to the matter which the judge below dismissed from the case. The judge below dismissed the motion as he did not believe the parties' children should live in separate residences. The judge expressed no findings that the children would be harmed by Amy's request for the change in custody, that changing schools would be to her detriment or that Amy was under undue influence by her father. Also, the judge held no plenary hearing prior to denial of the motion. The NJ Appeallate Court held that the judge erred in the failure to hold a plenary hearing as the facts clearly gave rise to a prima facie case of changed circumstances. The matter was remanded for a hearing in the event there remained a contest as the child was 16 years old by the time the appeal was decided. If you are seeking or fighting a change in custody, you should consult an experienced family law attorney immediately in order to protect your rights. For more information on child support, custody, parenting time/visitation, adoption, dissolution of a civil union, marriage or domestic partnership, modifications, alimony, palimony or other family or juvenile law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter.