Philadelphia Custody Modification & Enforcement Lawyer
Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery & Philadelphia County
When a court puts child custody orders in place, the judge accepts that the parties have considered changes that may take place as the child grows and that these changes are addressed in the custody arrangement and parenting plan. However, circumstances sometimes change, and the old custody arrangement doesn’t work anymore. When that happens, how do you change it? What if only one parent needs to change the custody, and the other parent disagrees? Learn more below about how to modify a custody order in Pennsylvania and what to do if a parent isn’t following the custody plan. Call the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane for help with Philadelphia custody modification or enforcement.
What is required to modify a custody order in Pennsylvania?
All custody decisions in Pennsylvania must ultimately be made in the best interest of the child, and modification of an existing custody order is no exception. The applicable Pennsylvania statute says that “Upon petition, a court may modify a custody order to serve the best interest of the child.”
It is to be expected that children’s needs will change as they grow up, and these expected changes are usually addressed in the original custody order and parenting plan. However, changes may come up that were not anticipated. When these changes are significant and lasting, it may be appropriate to modify the custody arrangement. In the best scenario, the parents agree on the need for modification. In that case, they can work together and submit a proposed modification to the judge, who will review it and approve the modification. Custody orders are court orders and should not be deviated from or modified without going through the courts. Otherwise, the change is not enforceable, and either parent could be found out of compliance with the custody order.
At the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane, our Philadelphia family law and child custody attorney can help you work with your co-parent to draft appropriate changes to the custody order and submit it to the court for approval. If the parents can’t agree on a modification, one parent may litigate the matter in court. In a courtroom hearing, the judge will take evidence and hear arguments on whether the proposed modification is in the best interest of the child. The same factors used to establish custody in the first place may be used to determine the need for modification. Our divorce and child custody lawyer is an experienced litigator who will fight hard for you and your children in court, whether arguing for or against a proposed modification.
What if a parent isn’t complying with custody?
Custody orders are enforceable court orders that are made to be enforced. Specifically, Pennsylvania custody law says that “In awarding custody, the court shall specify the terms and conditions of the award in sufficient detail to enable a party to enforce the court order through law enforcement authorities.”
A parent can potentially be found in contempt of court for noncompliance with any custody order. A parent who willfully fails to comply may be adjudged in contempt and punished with any of the following:
- Up to $500 in fines
- Up to six months in prison
- Up to six months’ probation
- Suspension, nonrenewal or denial of a driver’s license
or any combination of the above. Also, the party in contempt could be forced to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees and court costs.
It isn’t always necessary to initiate court proceedings to get compliance with custody orders. When your co-parent isn’t cooperating as they should, we’ll take appropriate measures to obtain compliance in the most efficient and effective means, without generating any more conflict than is necessary to make sure the custody orders you agreed on are being properly followed.
What about custody relocations?
Under Pennsylvania law, relocation is any change in a child’s residence which significantly impairs the ability of the non-relocating parent to exercise custodial rights. If a move qualifies as a custody relocation, then the moving parent must first go to court to modify the custody order. If the non-moving parent doesn’t object to the relocation or modification, the court can modify the existing custody order by approving the relocating parent’s proposal for a revised custody schedule. The court also specifies the methods for making any modification. If the other parent objects, the court holds a hearing on the issue. If you are proposing or opposing a custody relocation, we’ll give you the practical advice and professional representation you need to make sure your rights and interests are protected.
Trusted Legal Advice with Philadelphia Custody Modification or Enforcement
For help with custody modification or enforcement issues in Philadelphia, call the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane at 215-918-9453.