How to Modify a Child Custody or Support OrderAugust 7, 2023
Child custody and support orders are not set in stone, and there may be times when a modification is necessary. Whether it’s due to a change in circumstances or a desire to improve the well-being of the child, there are several steps you can take to modify a custody or support order.
Steps to Modify a Child Custody or Support Order
Determine Your Reason
Pennsylvania does not require a parent to have a reason for seeking to modify a custody or support Order. However, the first step in modifying a custody or support order should be determining if you have a valid reason for the change. Some common reasons for modification of custody include a change in the child’s living situation, in one parent’s living situation, or a significant change in the child’s needs.
Similarly, reasons for modification of child support may include:
- A significant change in the income of one or both parents
- A change in the child’s needs or living expenses; or
- A change in the parenting time arrangement
Review Your Order
Once you have identified a valid reason for modification, the next step is to review your custody or support order to determine which provisions of the Order need to be modified and whether you would like to add or change anything in addition to the physical custody schedule or basic support amount.
Modify Without Court
You may be able to modify your custody or support order without going to court. In some cases, both parents may be able to reach an agreement on the modification and submit it to the court for approval. This can be done through mediation or negotiation, which can help streamline the process and reduce the costs and stress associated with going to court.
File a Petition with the Court
If you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent, you may need to file a petition with the court to modify the custody or support order. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it may be necessary to protect the child’s best interests.
To file a petition for modification of custody or support, you must complete the necessary forms and provide evidence to support your request. This can include financial statements, medical reports, or other documentation demonstrating the need for the modification.
After filing the petition, you must attend a conference or hearing in court, where an officer of the court or a judge will review the evidence and rule on the modification. In custody, the court will consider a range of factors, including the best interests of the child, the stability of the child’s living situation, and the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs. In support, the considerations are largely income-based, but there are other considerations as well.
It is important to note that the courts are generally only willing to modify custody orders if there is a compelling reason to do so. In most cases, the court will only modify custody if a substantial change in circumstances affects the child’s well-being.
Some common reasons that a judge may change custody include:
- The relocation of one parent;
- Evidence of abuse or neglect;
- A significant change in the child’s needs or living situation; or
- A change in the ability of one parent to provide for the child’s needs
Work with a Child Custody Lawyer in Harrisburg, PA
Modifying a custody or support order can be a complex and challenging process but may be necessary to ensure the well-being of the child. Whether you seek a change in custody or support, it is important to identify a valid reason for the modification request.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent, you may need to file a petition with the court and attend a hearing, where a judge will consider a range of factors before deciding. With the guidance of an experienced child custody attorney, you can navigate the process of modifying a custody or support order and ensure that the best interests of your child are protected.