What are Child Custody Orders?
A custody order is a written order signed by a judge. It declares the amount of time a guardian, whether that's a parent or other caretaker, will have to watch over a child, or who can decide certain aspects of a child's life.
These types of custody are labeled as physical (where the children live) or legal (how decisions are made) custody. Generally, both parents in Pennsylvania will have shared legal custody, which covers matters like which schools the children attend, religious matters, where they obtain healthcare.
Breaking Down Physical Custody
Physical custody refers to children's living arrangements. Pennsylvania recognizes three separate types of physical custody: shared, primary, or sole custody. With shared custody, children will split their time between two permanent homes.
In a primary custody scenario, parents will still share custody, but one parent will be the “primary” or “custodial” parent. This parent cares for the children for more than 50% of the overnights in a two-week period of time and could be responsible for more physical care of the child. The other parent will have overnight custody of the children at all other times and may also have some periods of custody that do not include overnight time. A large number of parents in Bucks and Montgomery Counties share physical custody equally with each parent having 7 overnights of custody every 14 days.
Finally, and rarely with sole custody, one parent has 100% of the overnights and custody time of the children, and the other parent may not have any physical custody time with the children in those circumstances or may have very limited periods of time with the children, which may even be supervised if the circumstances warrant supervision. It's important to note, parents in these situations may still have shared legal custody.
What Do You Need to Achieve Custody Modifications?
Suppose you feel your circumstances have changed after a final custody order. In that case, you may be able to apply to modify the orders pertaining to child custody.
Even if you make a verbal agreement to change the child support amount or parent plan, the court may still hold everyone to the orders made in the final divorce agreement, so it is important to discuss any intended changes with an experienced attorney who can guide you through that process.
The Process to Receive Modification of a Court Order
To prove the need to modify family court orders, you'll need to show there was a significant change in your circumstances. Any request to modify child custody will need sufficient evidence to show your circumstances have changed. For instance, you might have had a change in employment, so the custody schedule may need to be updated to allow you time with your children while also going to work.
The court will decide if the change should be approved or denied. Your chances of success depend on how well you can prove a change in circumstances. A family law attorney will be able to walk you through the steps you should follow in order to have the best outcome possible.
Let Gibson Family Law, PLLC Help with Your Child Custody Modifications
The last thing you may want to do after reaching the final decision in your case is to revisit it. It can be stressful and daunting to review your circumstances alone, but sometimes it is necessary to change the decision reached regarding your child support, custody, or alimony outcomes.
Relying on an experienced Family Law attorney like Susan Gibson can give you a great chance to reach a new agreement with your ex-partner.
Susan can help you show how your circumstances have changed since the court ruled on your child custody, and she'll help you build your case.