Child custody arrangements serve the best interests of the child. When life circumstances change, you may need to change an existing custody order in Pennsylvania.
Reviewing the process of custody modification can help you understand if your case qualifies.
Demonstrate a significant change in circumstances
You must show a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification. It could relate to the child’s needs, the parents’ circumstances or other relevant factors.
You may want to try mediation to reach a new custody agreement with the other parent. Mediation can help both parties work together to create a revised custody plan that serves the child’s best interests.
File a Petition for Modification
If you cannot reach an agreement outside of court you can file a Petition for Modification of a custody order. This legal document outlines the reasons for the requested modification and the proposed changes. You should submit your petition to the county that issued your original custody order.
After filing the petition, you must notify the other parent of the request. They will have an opportunity to respond and present their perspective to the court.
Attend the custody modification hearing
The court will schedule a hearing to review the proposed modification and assess whether it is in the child’s best interests. During the hearing, both parents will have the chance to present evidence and arguments to support their positions.
Pennsylvania courts focus on the child when evaluating custody modification requests. The judge will review factors such as their age, physical and emotional well-being, relationships with both parents and the change in circumstances.
After the hearing, the court will either deny the modification request or issue a new custody order.
Pennsylvania courts process more than 42,000 child custody cases every year, and many of these families will eventually have a change in circumstances. Flexibility and cooperation can help ensure a smooth transition and reduce stress for the child during custody modification.