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HOW TO CHANGE CUSTODY & SUPPORT ORDERS
WHAT CAN I DO WHEN THE JUDGE GETS IT WRONG?
When you disagree with a Court Order, you have five basic options: (1) request correction of a clerical error; (2) file a motion for reconsideration; (3) file an appeal; (4) file a motion to vacate; and (5) file a motion to modify based on “changed circumstances,” which applies only to custody and support orders.
CLERICAL ERRORS. Correction of a clerical error can occur at any time and does not necessarily require a motion. Clerical errors include, for example, simple mathematical mistakes. But be warned, there is often significant disagreement over whether an error was merely clerical or was actually a substantive mistake. You can read more about how to correct clerical errors here: [MNJD Guide to Clerical Errors.]
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
RECONSIDERATION. A motion for reconsideration must generally be filed within twenty days of receiving a final Court Order. However, when seeking reconsideration of a non-final Court Order (i.e., “interlocutory” or “pendente lite”), no time limit applies and the burden is much lower. You can read more about filing a motion for reconsideration here: [MNJD Guide to Reconsideration.]
FILE AN APPEAL
APPEAL. An appeal of a final Court Order must generally be filed within 45 days of the date on which the Order was entered. However, when appealing a non-final Court Order (i.e., “interlocutory” or “pendente lite”), you must generally file that appeal within 20 days of the date on which you received the Order. There are exceptions and circumstances in which these deadlines can be extended. You can read more about the deadlines for filing appeals here: [MNJD Guide to Appeals.]
MOTION TO VACATE
MOTION TO VACATE. Even after those deadlines expire, you have another option: file a motion to vacate the Order. There are several reasons listed in the Rules of Court that might warrant vacating a Court Order. Depending on the reason for which you are asking to vacate the Court Order, you are required to file your motion within either one year of the Order’s entry, within a “reasonable time,” or at any time. You can read more about motions to vacate here: [MNJD Guide to Motions to Vacate.]
MOTION TO MODIFY
CUSTODY/SUPPORT ORDERS. The fourth option applies only to final custody and support orders. Those kinds of orders are modifiable at any time on a showing of “changed circumstances.”
- You can read more about the law governing modification of child support orders here: [MNJD Guide to Child Support.]
- You can read more about the law governing modification of alimony (otherwise known as spousal support) here: [MNJD Guide to Alimony.]
- You can read more about the law governing modification of custody here: [MNJD Guide to Custody.]
Andrew M. Shaw is the author of My New Jersey Divorce and a divorce and family attorney with the DeTommaso Law Group in Somerville, New Jersey. CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.
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ASSOCIATIONS & MEMBERSHIPS:
- New Jersey State Bar Association – Family Law Section
- New Jersey State Bar Association – Young Lawyers Division
- Somerset County Family Law Practice Committee
- MENSA International
- New Jersey State Bar
- U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey