Do You Need to Modify Your Custody Order?
Oftentimes after a divorce and custody order have been finalized, circumstances in the lives of the parties change. Sometimes those changes are minor, and the parties are able to make small adjustments, thereby avoiding having to go to court to get the order modified. Other times, however, the circumstances are such that the parties need to go to court and get the original order revised. Usually one party files a motion requesting a modification of the order.
It is important to understand that when it comes to “custody,” there are two types in Pennsylvania: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions. Physical custody is the actual physical possession and control of the child. Would you like both legal and physical custody modified or just one?
Reasons for a Modification
- Change of job
- Change of residence
- Change of school
- Child neglect/abuse
- One party has been convicted of a domestic crime
- Serious illness
- Multiple violations of current order
- Any other significant change in circumstance
Do any of those apply to you? If so, and the current order is no longer viable, modification may be the answer for you. When a court is trying to determine whether to grant a modification request, the number one concern for the judge is whether or not the modification is in the child’s best interest. How does the judge determine what is in a child’s best interest? The Pennsylvania statutes give the judge sixteen (16) factors to consider when modifying custody. You may recognize these factors, as they were the same ones used when the court originally determined what the custody would be.
Some of the factors considered when modifying custody
- The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child
- The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life, and community life
- The child’s sibling relationships
- The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent
- Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child’s emotional needs
The court may award any of the following types of custody: shared physical custody, primary physical custody, partial physical custody, sole physical custody, supervised physical custody, shared legal custody, and sole legal custody. It is easy to see how confusing and nuanced Pennsylvania family law is. As such, it is imperative to retain a lawyer who not only actually listens to your needs but is also highly skilled inside and outside of the courtroom.
Contact a Pittsburgh Divorce Attorney Today
If you need a custody modification or have already filed for one, now is the time to hire an experienced attorney to help you through this complicated legal procedure. Our Pittsburgh family attorneys will give you step-by-step guidance to make sure you and your children are protected. Reach out to us today at Bunde & Roberts, P.C. for help.