When can you modify a custody agreement?
Developing a custody plan after divorce can be difficult. You may find over time that you didn’t get it right the first time. That’s ok. Custody agreements are complex because they ask you to sit down and plan each weekend and school break and that’s on top of negotiating the division of property, monetary assets and other pieces of the divorce.
The need to go back and modify a custody agreement is understandable. What you and your spouse negotiated or the court ordered may turn out to be impractical in practice. The good news is that the state of Pennsylvania does allow parents to modify their agreement.
Best interest of the child
The basis for modifying a custody agreement is the same as for determining initial custody. You’ve probably heard the phrase “best interest of the child” at this point and it’s what the court will use as a guide in determining whether to allow the modification of an agreement or not.
A court’s primary concern will be the safety of the child. That means keeping the child from homes that are abusive, have drug or substance abuse issues or dangerous mental disorders.
If the child’s safety is not in question and both parties agree on the new child custody terms, the court will likely agree to a modification. If both parties do not agree, however, you will need to show why your proposed modification is better for the safety or best interests of the child.
The court will also consider other factors such as the child’s relationship with siblings and extended family. They will also consider whether the modification will provide the child with a loving and nurturing environment that meets their developmental, physical and educational needs.
Securing your modification
Provided the modification won’t jeopardize the child’s safety or isn’t an attempt to turn the child on the other party, a court may grant it. What you as a parent and the courts have in common is that you ultimately want what’s in the child’s best interest.