When Children Are Sick or Injured: Do Custody Agreements Hold Up?
Custody agreements are established by the court with the best information available at the time, and with the primary intention of fairness to the children. Parents may not like the terms of their custody agreement, and filing for a modification is one of the legal options available for changing it.
Generally, judges in New Jersey, as in other jurisdictions look for cooperation on the part of both parents, knowing that cooperation between their parents is the most important source of security for children after the tumultuous period of divorce.
There’s probably no time when a child is more vulnerable and in need of security than when he or she is sick or injured. Everyone who cares about the child is expected to care and also to cooperate for the child’s benefit. Children who have recently survived their parents’ divorce are already vulnerable as a result, and when those children become sick or experience injury they are in need of special attention.
Divorced parents have an obligation to follow the terms of their custody agreement, but they also have an obligation to use common sense. Cooperating when their child is sick or injured and may need to stay in one home, irrespective of custody dates and times, is a reasonable expectation.
Meaning, the court will expect reasonable behavior on the part of each parent, as will other caring relatives and of course the child himself or herself. It simply doesn’t make sense to anyone else if divorced parents choose to fight over their custody rights.
This may sound unbelievable, but it is not uncommon for well-meaning parents to fight over their child who is temporarily ill or injured. And some of them petition the court to order a modification of child custody. This is their legal right, but it is not necessarily wise.
Parents need to make a point to talk to each other and work out a sensible, practical arrangement for the short term, or long term if necessary so that their child sees and knows they are genuinely providing safety and security as a team. Having the right to custody time is not necessarily the same as doing the right thing.
When you want to consider all your options for modifying a shared custody agreement in New Jersey, call us for a no-obligation consultation, (732) 370-9596. Or email us to make an appointment in our offices.