Berman & Asbel, LLP

Parents: What to Know About Modifying Child-Related Plans

As children grow, their needs change dramatically. When parents are married, they can adjust to these changes together. However, when parents are divorced and sharing custody of their children, court intervention may be required to make the necessary adjustments to a child's changing needs.

For instance, as your child gets older, it can be more expensive to get them the things they want and need. He or she will also start becoming more mature and may have independent thoughts on where he or she wants to live. If you are going through these periods of growth and transition, it can be crucial to understand the basics of child support and child custody modification.

Child support modification

Any time there is a material or substantial change in a child's needs or parental circumstances, parents can petition for a modification of child support, according to Pennsylvania laws. These changes include:

  • Changing schools
  • Parental job loss or promotion
  • Moving from daycare to school
  • Increase in a child's medical needs and expenses
  • Death
  • Incarceration

Under these and similar circumstances, the courts can modify existing child support orders to more accurately reflect current capabilities and needs.

Child custody modification

Modifying child custody and visitation orders is also possible in light of significant changes, though it can be more difficult and more contentious than support modification. To modify custody orders, a parent must show that doing so is in the best interests of the child. For instance, modification can be appropriate if:

  • A reasonably mature child expresses the desire for a new schedule
  • A parent can no longer provide a stable environment
  • A child's safety is in danger
  • A parent moves away
  • The child has a new school or activities schedule
  • A parent gets a new job

These are changes that would have almost certainly affected an original custody order and the best interests of the child, so courts should review the existing plan and make or approve changes if appropriate.

Don't go it alone

Making child support and custody modifications should be done lawfully and with the court's permission so the revised orders can still be properly enforced. With this in mind, you want to work with an attorney to ensure a modification is lawful and fair.

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