Defending Against a Petition to Change Child Custody Gloucester County Superior Court
Issues involving the custody and care of children are always fraught with emotion. Today, we successfully defended against a petition to change child custody. We represented the father of the child. Our client had primary physical custody of his four-year-old son. The child’s mother, who was never married to our client, filed a motion to change custody. Not only was she seeking a changing custody, she was also seeking to collect child support and to limit the parenting time of our client.
We opposed the motion and filed a cross-motion seeking to obtain attorney fees on behalf of our client. The natural response to a petition to change custody is to defend it on the merits. Said another way, the best way to prevent the changing custody is to show why such a change was not in the best interest of the child. However, this would bypass an essential element for a successful custody motion. Initially, the moving party (the party requesting the change) must show that there has been a change in circumstance. If the moving party cannot show a change in circumstance then there is no reason to evaluate the alleged merits of the request.
In our case, the mother of the child failed to show how any aspect of her son’s life had changed since the time that the child’s father became the primary physical custodial parent. By all accounts the child is a well adjusted preschooler the mothers petition to change custody had general statements as to why she thought it was in her son’s best interest to be with her. However, she did not make a showing of any circumstances that a change since the time that she agreed the child’s father is better soon had primary custody child.
Without a showing changed circumstances, the court did not even consider the alleged reasons for the change in custody. After denying mother’s request to change custody, the court then considered the father’s request for attorneys fees for having to defend against the request to change custody. The court recognized that the mother had previously filed similar request to change custody. Court also recognized that her past motions were either unsuccessful or withdrawn after the opposition was filed with the court. In this particular instance, the child’s mother failed to show up court for a motion. The court was convinced that an attorney fee award against the mother filed the application was warranted.
If you or a loved one has questions regarding changing a child’s name, child custody or any other family law matter contact the child custody attorneys at DeMichele and DeMichele. For a confidential consultation to discuss your situation call (856) 546-1350.