Why Would I Change My Child Custody Order?

When parents first get their first child custody orders, they have a tendency to think they’re permanent, but that’s hardly the case! In reality, children change, circumstances change, and because of these common changes, it’s normal for parents to go back to court at least once if not several times to change their child custody orders.

The family courts in Pennsylvania and across the nation view child custody orders as open-ended. So, if you’re a custodial or a noncustodial parent who’s thinking that you need your child custody order changed or “modified,” you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. That being said, what are some of the common reasons why parents petition the courts to modify their current child custody orders?

Modifying a Child Custody Order

If there is one thing about life that is constant, it’s change. When you get a divorce, for example, it’s highly likely that your life will look very different five years from the date your divorce is finalized. Five years later, you may have a new spouse, a new job, a new house, and even new children.

Or, in five years you may be unemployed, disabled, injured from a car accident, or you may have a disease that makes it hard for you to work or care for your children full time – all of these factors (good and bad) can have a direct impact on child custody. So, let’s look at some of the most common reasons why parents change their child custody orders:

  • The custodial parent remarries and the child does not get along with the new husband or wife.
  • The custodial parent relocates for a job and the child does not want to leave their extended family, school, friends, and their other parent.
  • The child reaches the teen years and they stop getting along with their custodial parent and want to move in with their other parent.
  • The custodial parent can no longer care for the child due to unemployment, an illness, a disability, or another medical condition.
  • The custodial parent develops a substance abuse problem or severe mental illness which interferes with their parenting.

If you are on the road to divorce and you have minor children with your spouse, you will have to establish a child custody arrangement before your divorce will have to be finalized. However, it may not be permanent. As your child’s needs or activities change, or as your life and your ex’s life changes, you may need to go back to court at a future date to modify the existing child custody order.

Next: What is Parallel Parenting?

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