How does the court look at child custody modification?

In the state of Pennsylvania, the court will always put your child’s best interests first in any matter concerning custody.

If you have a valid reason for modifying your original child custody agreement, the court will take several factors into consideration before approving your request. Here are four reasons for wanting to modify your current custody arrangement that the court will usually look upon favorably:

1. Child endangerment fears

Your child may express an unwillingness to remain in the home of the other parent. Domestic violence may be a factor, or the child may have suffered abuse either mentally or physically. The co-parent may have an addiction to drugs or alcohol and is creating an unhealthy atmosphere for the child. If you fear that the child is in immediate danger, the court will act swiftly to alter the custody agreement.

2. Relocation

If you or the other parent has a job opportunity in another city, the court will consider a modification request. The court will want to know the reason for the relocation, how it will affect the visitation schedule and whether it will disrupt the child’s life.

3. Ignoring the agreement terms

If the other parent repeatedly ignores the visitation schedule as originally agreed to, the court will want to review the agreement and the reasons the parent is not following the schedule. The court may also examine the communication between you and the other parent or lack thereof.

4. Death of a custodial parent

Modification will clearly be necessary if the custodial parent should pass away. In this case, the court prefers to see the non-custodial parent assume full responsibility for the child but will also consider third-party responsibility, as in the case of a grandparent stepping into the breach.

Gaining court approval

An experienced family law attorney can craft a petition in accordance with the requirements and preferences of the court where you will present your request for modification. As long as the court feels satisfied that modification is in the best interests of your child, it will usually grant approval.