How to Undo Custody Arrangements in New Jersey

By Beverly Bird

The divorce process can be a bumpy road. You may think you have certain issues resolved, such as custody, but then something happens that makes you uncomfortable with the terms you agreed to, or you may disagree with a judge's decision. In New Jersey, you may or may not be able to undo the arrangement. It depends a great deal on where you are in the divorce process and why you want to change your parenting plan.

Reversing a Property Settlement Agreement

You have a limited window of time in which to change your mind if you've agreed to a custody arrangement in a marital settlement agreement -- called a "property settlement agreement" in New Jersey. After you and your spouse both sign a PSA, it's binding. You or your lawyer will submit it to the court and a judge will attach it to a divorce judgment and sign the judgment, making it official. If you notify the court immediately that you've changed your mind about the custody terms, the judge may not sign the judgment and you can go back to the drawing board -- either by attempting to negotiate a new agreement with your spouse or by going to trial so the court can decide custody.

Motions for Relief From Judgment

If a judge signs your judgment before you notify the court you want to vacate your custody agreement, you may have one other option, depending on why you want to undo your arrangement. If you feel you were railroaded into the agreement because your spouse had an attorney and you didn't, or if your spouse lied about something that influenced your decision, you can file a motion with the court for "relief from judgment." This is complex litigation requiring knowledge of the law so you might need the help of an attorney.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Fighting a Temporary Order

Temporary custody arrangements are often put into place early in divorce proceedings. They're included in "pendente lite" orders in New Jersey and stay in effect until your divorce is final. They're temporary by nature so if you want to undo this kind of custody arrangement, you can argue your case at trial when a final custody order is decided.

Appealing a Judgment

If a judge ordered your custody arrangement after a divorce trial and you disagree with his decision, you might be able to appeal the judgment. However, this is also a highly complex legal proceeding and you'd probably need the help of an attorney. You can't submit new evidence in an appeal -- you can only argue the judge misinterpreted the law or circumstances of your case when he ordered your custody arrangement. Appeals can take up to two years to work their way through the New Jersey judicial system so this is not a quick or easy remedy.

Custody Modifications

Undoing your arrangement is easiest when you and your spouse agree to a change. In this case, you can both sign a consent order with the new terms and submit it to the court. The judge will sign it and it will override your old custody arrangement, even if that arrangement was included in your divorce judgment. You can also ask the court to readdress issues of custody whenever a significant change occurs that makes your arrangement no longer workable. You can file a motion for modification after your divorce is final, but the judge will want to see evidence of a major change, such as your ex has developed a drug or alcohol dependency, lost his home or remarried someone who is abusive toward your child.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to File for Child Custody in Washington State
 

References

Related articles

Can Divorce Papers Be Rescinded Once Signed?

Your ability to rescind divorce papers after signing them depends a great deal on exactly what you signed and what you want to take back. If you signed a divorce complaint or petition and then decide to stop the divorce process, it’s usually not a complicated procedure. However, if you signed a marital settlement agreement ending your marriage, and if you no longer want to abide by the divorce terms to which you agreed, you should speak with an attorney. Rescinding a marital settlement agreement is much more difficult and you probably could not accomplish it without professional help.

Procedures for a Legal Separation & Divorce in Illinois

Illinois law recognizes legal separation, although not all states do. Legal separations are somewhat rare in the state, however, because the procedure, expense and outcome are almost identical to those of a divorce. The predominant difference is that with a separation, you’re still legally married, and with a divorce, you are not.

Michigan Law on Divorce Settlements

Michigan is one of the few states where judges can consider marital misconduct when dividing property in a divorce. Spouses can avoid a judge taking fault into consideration at trial by negotiating their own divorce settlement, called a property settlement agreement in Michigan. However, Michigan law regarding these settlements is somewhat complicated.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Change Custody of a Minor in New Jersey

After parents separate or divorce, life goes on; children grow older and their needs change. Parents move on, too, ...

Changing Divorce Decrees in Minnesota

A Minnesota divorce becomes final when the divorce decree is signed by a judge, entered into the court record and 60 ...

How to Enforce a Divorce Decree Without an Attorney

Achieving a divorce decree you can live with is sometimes just the first part of the battle. Fortunately, the law is ...

How to Appeal a Divorce and Parenting Plan in Washington

Whether you live in Washington or any other state, you can usually save yourself a lot of time, money and stress if you ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED