How to Modify a Child Custody Order in Pennsylvania

The finalization of your divorce can bring a huge sense of relief and mark a turning point in your life. Unfortunately, a divorce decree does not necessarily mean that you and your ex are done with legal battles.

One of the ways in which lawyers may become involved again is through a child custody modification. If your ex is cooperative, you can quickly handle any requested changes to an existing child custody order outside of court. If, however, you or your ex take issue with the requested changes, changing your current agreement can be a long and contentious process.

How to begin a child custody modification

The first step is not to start the filing process until you speak with a qualified family law attorney. Having legal guidance from the beginning can keep you from making mistakes. With the help of your lawyer, file a petition (the original and two copies) to modify child custody. The court will then notify you and your ex of the hearing date to review the petition.

At the hearing, the judge will look at numerous factors in deciding whether or not the modification would be in your child’s best interests. Some of these factors are the availability and ability of each parent to provide for a child’s needs, the circumstances of each household (including other people who live there), and the stability and well-being of the child. The judge will then determine the new arrangement.

Reasons for a child custody modification

Are you unsure if your situation warrants a modification? Common reasons for wanting to change your child custody arrangement include:

  • A desire to move a significant distance (relocation).
  • The inability to fully care for your child.
  • An ex who does not follow the current schedule.
  • Concern over the physical or emotional safety of your child.
  • Desire for a stronger relationship between a child and one parent.

These are not the only reasons for modifying custody. To learn more about your options, talk to a lawyer about your specific situation .