A child’s growth comes with various changes in their lives, such as additional school activities, summer job opportunities or simply changes in personal preferences. Changes in the parents’ lives could also affect the child, like a new job or home. Because of these changes in circumstances, the current custody arrangement may no longer be in the child’s best interest. Fortunately, Pennsylvania allows parents to modify the order.
When do courts allow changes?
Unlike other states, Pennsylvania does not require parents to prove a substantial change in circumstances to modify a child custody order. As long as the modification is in the child’s best interest, family courts will consider it. However, a substantial change in circumstances can still be grounds to ask the court for a modification.
Modifications can be made for reasons such as a parent’s relocation, a child’s difficulty adjusting to school, and the child being at risk of abuse and neglect.
How the process works
Depending on the parents’ agreement, the process for child custody order alterations can proceed differently. Changes in custody order can proceed under the following circumstances:
- Parents’ agreement: Parents can modify the custody order if they both consent to the changes without any dispute.
- Collaborative discussion: If the ex-spouses cannot agree on the changes, they can seek a collaborative approach wherein they can negotiate and decide with their child’s best interest as the top priority without going through litigation.
- Intervention of courts: It is not uncommon that ex-partners fail to come to an agreement due to strong opinions and preferences. In this case, family courts step in and make the decision.
Any process involving a child requires time and effort since the courts carefully look at and decide on each case to ensure that every decision is the best option for the child’s well-being.