When is it time to seek child custody modification?

Whether a judge awarded sole or joint physical custody of a minor child, the decision is not set in stone. Child custody arrangements are made based on several factors, including the stability, mental health, physical wellness and caretaking abilities of both parents, according to Pennsylvania state statutes. Yet, the best interests of the children are the key factor when making the decision.

All of these factors are subject to change, as life is fluid and often presents obstacles and diversions you may not have expected, things change as living arrangements and work schedules change, etc. Many of these situations may warrant a change to your child support order as well. When do you know when it is time to apply for a child support modification?

What factors may lead to a modification?

Either you or the other parent of your child may run into a life-changing situation that makes it difficult to keep up with the current court-ordered custody order. Furthermore, your child may experience a change that requires an adaptation to the order as well. Some potential situations include the following:

  • Taking a position or job opportunity that alters the times available to spend with the child;
  • Moving a significant distance away from the child or other parent;
  • Receiving a serious health diagnosis that affects ability to care for the child;
  • Getting incarcerated;
  • Receiving military deployment;
  • Finding that the child is in danger of physical, mental or sexual abuse in the current situation; and
  • Finding a change in the child’s educational needs.

It is important that you work together with the parent of your child to do what is best for your child and come to an agreement regarding their care.

Where should you start?

If you and the parent of your child can come to a mutual understanding, and create a new custody order, you may submit your proposed changes to the court for approval. Yet, if you cannot come to an agreement, you must file a petition to modify with the courts. It is critical that you design a modified schedule, and are able to back up your reasoning as to why this is in your child’s best interests, before instituting litigation. Contact us at OWM to discuss your custody rights and responsibilities.

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