When you get divorced, you may doubt whether you will ever get married again. Then you meet someone who changes your mind. However, say you are still locked in a heated custody battle with your ex-spouse. How will getting married impact your custody battle in New Jersey?

Deciding What is in the Child’s Best Interest?

As with most states, New Jersey judges evaluate a child’s best interest to decide custody cases.

N.J.S.A. 9:2-4 outlines the factors that a judge should use when determining the best interest of the child, including: 

  • The fitness of each parent
  • The number and age of the children in the home
  • The preference of the child, if age-appropriate
  • The quality and extent of time the child spent with each parent before and after the parents’ separation 
  • The stability of the home environment of each parent
  • The location of each parent’s homes
  • Any special needs of the child
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to communicate, cooperate, and agree on matters relating to their child
  • The existing parenting time and custody arrangement 
  • The location of the child’s school
  • The responsibilities and work hours of both parents
  • The need to preserve healthy parent-child relationships and sibling relationships
  • The physical safety of the child and any history of domestic violence

The judge considers all relevant information to decide the child’s best interest. Therefore, a judge may consider your remarriage as part of the custody order.

What is Your Living Situation?

The judge will consider the living situation of each parent when determining custody matters. Therefore, even though your new spouse is not a party to the custody action, you can expect your ex-spouse to raise that issue. 

The judge may want to delve deeply into your new spouse’s character and life. Your new spouse may need to disclose a great deal of information, depending on the situation. The judge must determine whether your new spouse poses a threat to the wellbeing of your child.

Do not forget that new step-children may also impact the custody case. Each child in the home affects your child. Therefore, the judge may consider how bringing step-siblings into the home impacts your child’s best interest.

Remarriage means changes for everyone, including your child. The transition can be difficult. If a judge believes that the change could overwhelm your child, the judge could award primary physical custody to your ex-spouse. 

Does Remarriage Automatically Modify a Custody Arrangement?

No, remarriage is not an automatic reason to modify a custody order. However, if you believe that the remarriage is not in your child’s best interest, you should speak with a custody lawyer. Depending on the situation, the remarriage could be considered a material change, giving you the grounds to request a modification of custody.

However, be prepared to provide evidence that shows that the remarriage poses potential hazards for your child. Not liking the person is not grounds for a child custody modification. 

Relocation and Child Support

If you intend to relocate with your child after your remarriage, that could be an issue. If the child is in a stable environment, doing well in school, and would lose a close relationship with one parent, the relocation could go against you in a custody battle. 

Uprooting a child, especially when the child is still adjusting to the parents’ divorce, could be detrimental to the child’s wellbeing. A judge may consider your choice to relocate as not being in the child’s best interest. 

Child support could also be impacted by remarriage. If the remarriage changes custody arrangements, child support could also change. You should discuss these issues with your lawyer so that you are prepared for the change in support payments if the judge decides to modify the current custody or time-sharing plan. 

Preparing for Remarriage During a Custody Battle

Before doing anything, talk to your family lawyer. You need to understand your legal rights, your options, and how your decision to remarry could impact the custody case. Depending on the situation, you may want to postpone the remarriage to avoid complicating an already difficult custody case.

However, there could be situations in which a remarriage could strengthen your case. Your lawyer can help you weigh the pros and cons to decide what is in the best interest of your family.