How Are Child-Custody Modifications Handled in Pennsylvania?

By Jones & Associates Law P.C.

If you have a child custody order in Pennsylvania, you may wonder if you can change it later. Yes, and here are some things you need to know about child-custody modifications in Pennsylvania.

When Can You Request a Modification?

You can request a child custody modification if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances that affects the best interests of the child. There are several possible reasons for a modification. This includes that the current custody arrangement is not working for the child or the parents, or that one parent has relocated or plans to relocate, abused or neglected the child or developed a substance abuse or mental health problem. Finally, a child-custody modification can be based on the child’s changed needs or preferences.

However, you cannot request a modification simply because you are unhappy with the current order. You also cannot request one to punish the other parent. You must show that the change is necessary and beneficial for the child.

How Do You Request a Modification?

To request a child custody modification, you need to file a petition with the court that issued the original order. You also need to serve a copy of the petition to the other parent and give them an opportunity to respond. The court will then schedule a hearing to decide whether to grant or deny your request.

The Hearing

At the hearing, you will need to present evidence and testimony to support your request. You will also need to show that you have made reasonable efforts to communicate and cooperate with the other parent regarding the proposed change. The court will consider several factors when deciding whether to modify the order and when determining what is in the best interests of the child. These factors include the stability and continuity of the child’s environment and the relationship between the child and each parent.

The Delaware County family law judge also looks at the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs. The judge looks at the wishes of the child, if they are old enough and mature enough to express them, and any other relevant factors the judge believes are in the best interests of the child.

Nonetheless, the court will not modify the order unless it finds that there is a substantial change in circumstances and that the modification will serve the best interests of the child.