Lancaster Firm Negotiates Divorce and Custody Modification Agreements
Pennsylvania family law attorney assists clients seeking to revise an existing order
Change is a part of life, and your divorce decree or child custody plan might require modifications in order to keep up with those changes. At Chan & Associates in Lancaster, I advise Pennsylvanians on situations where one party would like to adjust terms relating to custody arrangements, alimony or child support. Whether you want to petition for a modification or would prefer to keep things the way they are, you can count on my firm for honest counsel and effective advocacy.
Reasons why divorce or child custody terms might be modified
Financial shifts often compel a former spouse to seek a change in their divorce order. If alimony is being paid, the paying party might propose a downward modification or even elimination of the obligation altogether if their income has dropped or their ex is earning more money than them at the time of the divorce. An alimony recipient’s decision to move in with a new partner could also trigger a modification petition. Child support adjustments can be requested through a county court’s Domestic Relations Section if a parent’s income change up or down is substantial enough to affect the fairness of an existing order. When the needs of young people or their parents change, a child custody modification might be in order. This could be prompted by a child’s desire to switch homes or a custodial parent’s decision to relocate to a different city.
How a divorce order is modified in Pennsylvania
Frequently, both parties will consent to post-decree modification that can then be formalized by the court. I strive to avoid hearings whenever possible by identifying creative ways to reach compromise between former spouses. Should a reasonable settlement be impossible, my firm can petition the court for a modification with supporting information showing that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred that justifies the revision.
Factors used by courts in child custody modification decisions
As in other matters relating to custody, modification requests are decided based on what the judge thinks is in the youth’s best interests. Some changes are simple and agreed upon by both parents. In these cases, I can draw up the necessary documents and submit them to the court for approval and incorporation into the existing parenting plan. Other modification requests are highly contested. Frequently, conflict arises when a custodial parent seeks to relocate due to a job change, new relationship or family medical crisis. This could make visitation more difficult for the noncustodial parent. For this reason, Pennsylvania law requires 60 days’ notice of a move and court authorization before the relocation can be completed. Factors that a judge considers during a contested relocation include:
- The child’s relationship with both parents
- The age of the child and the effect that the move might have on their development
- How the move will affect the child’s relationship with their noncustodial parent
- How the move will affect the quality of life of the child and the relocating parent
- The reason for the move
- The child’s preference, if they have the maturity to make a reasonable decision
Though not every proposed child custody modification involves a relocation, similar considerations are used regardless of the subject. For example, if a parent wants to adjust physical custody terms so that their child spends more time in their home, courts will look at the reasons for doing so and how the change would affect the well-being of the youth and each parent-child relationship. Whether you feel that a modification to your custody plan is warranted or you are contesting a proposed revision, my firm will help you pursue the result you seek.
Contact a thorough Pennsylvania attorney regarding a divorce or custody order modification
Chan & Associates assists south central Pennsylvania clients who are seeking to revise a divorce or custody order, as well as those opposing requested modifications. Please call 717-869-0015 or contact me online to schedule an appointment at my Lancaster office.