Despite the challenges that come with sharing custody of your child with an ex, most people adjust over time and find a new norm. However, situations arise that make it difficult or unwise to keep going with the same custody order, which means that a change may be necessary.
Modifying your custody order can ensure that it still reflects what is in the best interests of your child and aligns with parenting goals and capabilities. Thus, it can be wise to consider a modification in the following scenarios.
- There is a dramatic change in a child’s or parent’s health. If a child needs more hands-on care or a parent will spend a lot of time in a hospital or rehabilitation facility, modifying the custody order to better reflect the situation can be crucial.
- A parent relocates. Moving out of the state or country have can affect parenting plans and schedules. Whether the relocation is for personal or professional reasons, it can necessitate a shift in when a child sees parents and how often exchanges occur. Please note that relocations can trigger notice/consent requirements. Review your existing order to confirm the relocation restrictions that apply to you.
- A child gets old enough to have an opinion about custody that varies from the existing order. Pennsylvania laws account for the well-reasoned preference of a child when it considers what is in that child’s best interests. Though there is no set age for this, if your child was a baby or toddler when the original order was in place and they are now preteens or teens with their own preference, it may warrant a modification.
- There are threats to a child’s safety or well-being. If a parent can no longer provide a safe home or keep a child away from dangerous situations, it may be in their best interests to modify custody so that a child spends more or most time in a safer arrangement.
- It has been several years since your order was put in place. Children and parents change over time. Regularly assessing your situation every few years allows parents to make changes based on new, less-drastic factors. For instance, you might adjust things when a child can legally drive or when he or she starts a new school.
Under these circumstances, you can work with your attorney to modify a custody order to ensure it continues to protect your child and your parenting rights.