Once the child custody arrangement is finalized in your divorce settlement, you may feel as though it is set in stone. You may have primary or joint custody with visitation, and a parenting plan scheduled out with visiting times.
Life changes, however, and a shift in life circumstances may call for a revision of your child custody agreement. There are certain situations in which you can petition the court to reconsider the custody terms in your settlement. For example, the arrangement set when your child was a toddler may need revision once he or she begins school.
What are the best interests of the child?
Before modification is awarded, the court will consider whether it is in the best interests of the child, according to the Pennsylvania Courts. This includes looking at sibling relationships, maintaining stability, academics, cooperation between parents and the child’s preference. An environment that is conducive to the child at one point in time, may change through the years.
What situations call for a custody modification?
There are several life changes that may require a change in the approved arrangement. These include the following:
- A parent relocates a significant distance, making it difficult to maintain the same parenting plan
- A parent is incarcerated or becomes in trouble with the law
- A household becomes mentally or physically abusive toward the child
- A parent changes jobs, revising the times they are able to spend with the child
- A parent becomes physically or mentally ill and can no longer care for the child
You and the co-parent may agree on the proposed custody changes, simplifying the modification process. If one parent disagrees with the change, the petition will most likely go to court and undergo a judge’s review.