Like virtually any other court order, your child custody plan is not set in stone. While it can take some effort, it is possible to convince a family court judge that a change in the plan is necessary. Amending the plan is easier when both parents agree, but it is not required.

As a parent living in the State College area, you should seriously consider seeking a change to your child custody order if any of the following are happening.

Your child is in danger

If you and your co-parent share custody, or if they have sole custody and you get visitation time, and you believe your child is being abused or neglected in the home, you should take immediate legal action. This is one of the most common reasons parents try to change the child custody order, usually to get sole custody for themselves so that the child will be safe.

You or your co-parent is moving

When a child’s custodial parent wants to move out of state or far away from the noncustodial parent, the noncustodial parent has the right to object. If the two sides cannot work out a settlement, the matter could end up before a judge, who will decide whether the move is in the child’s best interests. The court will balance the potential benefits of moving, such as an increased household income or more access with family members, against the potential loss of time with the other parent, friends, and other consequences.

Your ex is violating the order

If your co-parent does not show up with your child when it is your visitation time, or is threatening not to let you see your child, it may be time to alert the court and get the order changed. Or if your ex is accusing you of violating the order, you will need legal help to show that you are abiding by it, or to explain why the terms of the order cannot be followed.

Your ex has died

When the custodial parent of a minor passes away, generally the court will shift custody to the surviving parent. However, courts will consider other arrangements, such as granting custody to a grandparent, in certain situations.

Modification is in the child’s best interests

Pennsylvania law requires that the most important thing in any child custody matter is the child’s best interests. That depends on many factors, including the child’s age, health, educational needs, where their friends and family live, and their personal preferences. If one parent believes that things have changed and the child custody arrangement is no longer in their child’s best interests, they might try to get it changed.

As a parent, the best thing you can do for your kids during a custody dispute is to hire an experienced family law attorney.