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Family and Relationships

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Home Page > Family and Relationships > Custody/Visitation > How to Change or Enforce a Custody/Visitation Order > I am the non-custodial parent > I have had a change in circumstances > I have a copy of my most recent custody/visitation order > Docket number begins with FM

View additional information about how to appear in court and argue your motion


Procedures for Filing Motion Papers and appearing in the Chancery Division Family Part of Superior Court of New Jersey in an “FM” case.

  1. Make two copies of your papers and file them with the clerk at the family intake office. Make sure that you get a copy back.

  2. The clerk will then serve the other parent by sending him or her a copy of your papers.

  3. The court will assign a date for your motion and send a notice to you and the other parent about where and when to appear. If you cannot appear on the scheduled date call the court immediately.

    View addresses and phone numbers for the county courthouses.

  4. Before you go to court it is a good idea to make a list of the reasons why you need to change the custody or visitation order. Those reasons should be the same as the reasons that you listed on the papers that you filed with the court.

    If you have new information to give to the court, information that is different from the information on the court papers you must tell the court as soon as possible, or at least on the date of the hearing. If the new information is important the court may adjourn ( reschedule) the hearing to allow the other parent time to prepare a response.

  5. On the date of your court appearance you will probably be required to appear before a mediator first before you appear before a judge. The mediator will give both you and the other parent an opportunity to speak and will then try to help you reach an agreement. If you are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will write that agreement down in the form of a court order called a consent order. The judge will review the proposed court order and sign it if he or she feels it is proper. Both you and the other parent will also sign the consent order.

  6. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement with the mediator, you will have a hearing before a judge. The judge will normally ask the person who filed the motion (known as the moving party) to speak first. The judge will then give the other parent time to respond to the arguments of the moving party.

  7. If the judge feels that he or she needs more information, he or she can do the following:
    1. Interview the child(ren)—If the judge decides to interview the child(ren) the interview will take place in the judge's chambers (private office). The judge may give you and the other parent an opportunity to submit questions to be asked. The judge may decide not to ask some of your questions, but he or she must give you reasons. The judge's interview with the children must be recorded and you may get a copy of the transcript (printed record) of the interview if you request it. There is a charge for the transcripts.
    2. Order investigations done by the court (sometimes called best interest investigations.)
    3. Order psychological evaluations of parents and child(ren).
    4. Order medical examinations of the child(ren).
    5. Order that a school provide records to the court.
    6. Order that DYFS conduct home evaluations of both parents’ homes.
    7. Order that DYFS provide records of prior involvement with your family(if there has been prior DYFS involvement).
    8. Request copies of the child(ren)’s medical records.

  8. If the judge feels that he or she has enough information to make a decision he or she issues a decision orally and fills out a written court order which either grants the motion or denies it.

    Motion denied.

    If the motion is denied the most recent order issued before the motion was filed remains in place and both parties must continue to follow that order. The judge will direct the court staff to make sure that both parties get a copy of the order denying the motion.

    Motion granted.

    If the motion is granted the judge will write out a new order which states that the motion was granted and orders new custody or visitation arrangements.

  9. Both parties should get a copy of the signed order and take it with them before they leave the courthouse.

  10. The new order becomes the order that both parties must follow. The judge will direct the court staff to make sure that both parties get a copy of the new order granting the motion.


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