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Can you change a child custody agreement?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Child Custody

When a set of parents settles a divorce in Pennsylvania, they must reach an agreement regarding the care and support of their children. Each family’s needs are unique, and the court keeps children’s best interests in mind when making decisions. Once both parents sign a child custody agreement and the court approves it, it becomes legally enforceable.  

This means that both parents must adhere to its terms. If one parent is frustrated because the other parent keeps disregarding the custody order, the issue can be brought to the court’s attention. A parent could be found in contempt of court for not obeying a child custody order. But what if the instructions of the existing court order are no longer feasible? For example, what if a parent is supposed to pick up the children at a specific time and location but his or her work schedule changes, making it impossible to be there on time? 

No changes can be made without the court’s approval for modification 

A parent may file a motion to modify an existing child custody order. Unless and until the judge grants the request, the original court order remains in effect. Even if both parents agree to the proposed changes, they are not free to make the changes, unless and until the judge gives the court’s stamp of approval.  

Legitimate reasons to request child custody modification, include job changes or schedule changes, reduction (or increase) in income, relocation, impaired mental or physical health status of a parent, and more. When a parent files a petition to modify a custody order, it will be necessary to document a valid reason for the request. The court will determine if the suggested changes would be best for the children. If so, the modification may be granted.