Do I Need a Lawyer to Modify Custody?

Parents Discuss Custody.

Do I need a lawyer to modify custody?

Child custody is often the most difficult issue in a divorce. Depending on the circumstances, the custody agreement may need to be modified. While you don’t need to hire a lawyer to modify custody in Pennsylvania, it’s usually advised, because experienced lawyers can help you achieve a modification agreement that will be in the best interest of the child.

In Pennsylvania, you can either modify custody through mutual agreement or through court order. With a mutual agreement, the parents come to an agreement and submit the document to the court in which custody was originally decided. This agreement will require great attention to detail to multiple circumstances such as how holidays and birthdays will be handled.

When the two parents can’t come to an agreement about changes, the court may be petitioned to make the changes. A correct form will need to be submitted, along with reasons for the change, and the court will make a decision based on the information provided. It’s possible you may be required to attend a hearing to explain the changes to the judge.

Even if you have an uncontested agreement, you may at some point need to make changes. If you need uncontested child custody help for any reason, consult with the professionals at People's Justice LLC. Find out how we can help by calling 855-577-7673.

What is uncontested child custody?

Uncontested child custody is an agreement between parents about who gets custody of a child or children. Parents and the courts decide aspects about where the child will live, where he or she will be educated and how he or she will be taken care of. If each parent accepts the terms of the custody agreement, then it is uncontested. If there is a protest by one of the parents, the custody is contested, and the parents have not reached an agreement over custody and terms. 

How child custody works

Child custody can be a complex arrangement. There are four basic types of custody, and each works differently. The types of custody are outlined and explained below.

Types of child custody

  • Sole physical custody: In this form of custody, the children live with and are under the supervision of one parent. The other parent may arrange for visitation rights that are approved by the court.
  • Joint physical custody: The parents share custody. The children live with both parents at different times of the year, either during the week or month or other arrangement.
  • Sole legal custody: This type of custody gives one parent the right and responsibility over decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and welfare. The other parent may retain visitation rights.
  • Joint legal custody: Both parents make decisions about welfare, health and education. It’s the preferred type of custody.

Can you change custody agreement without going to court?

If the custody agreement between parents is mutually agreed upon, then there is no need to go to court but the document must be drawn up and sent to the court. When the parents can’t agree on terms or if there are changes in circumstances such as relocation for a job, the court must be petitioned. In some cases all that’s needed is that a document needs to be submitted to the court. But in some cases, a court hearing may need to be held. Both parties may be required to appear in court.

How do you give temporary custody of a child to a family member?

For whatever reason, a person may need to give temporary custody or guardianship to a family member or other trusted person. This is an agreement between the parties that the person getting temporary rights to the child is responsible for everything from education to emergency care, as would the parent or legal guardian. These agreements are essentially contracts, and the parties need to sign the agreement and have it notarized, although the terms cannot be legally enforced. The temporary guardianship cannot exceed 365 days under Pennsylvania law. While it’s not necessary, it’s advisable to consult an attorney. If you need court ordered intervention guidance in Lebanon, PA, for instance, you may want to award temporary guardianship to a trusted family member until you get back on your feet.

What is considered change of circumstances in child custody?

A variety of situations can constitute a change of circumstances in a custody agreement. Circumstances could include anything from needing to change a child’s school, which might affect visitation, a substantial change in a parent’s life, such as incarceration or if a child may be in danger because the parent is abusing drugs or alcohol. Any changes in the agreement need to be submitted and approved by the court for the terms to be legally enforced. The change in circumstances must be significant and in the best interest of the child for the modification to be granted.

Are child custody records public

Usually, child custody orders are part of the public record and anybody can access them through the court. The records aren’t, however, always publicly available. What type of Information that’s available will vary from state to state and the circumstances. Children’s ages or addresses may be redacted for the sake of the child’s safety. In some cases, the only information that may be publicly available is that a custody order was issued in a divorce.

Can child custody be reversed

Court ordered child custody can be reversed for a variety of issues, and can lead to legal problems for the person in violation of the orders. For instance if visitation is repeatedly denied, the parent that is preventing the visitation can be held in contempt of court. Similarly, blocking communication from parent to child can create legal problems. Other modifications in the agreement may be made mutually by the parents or by petitioning the court. Any changes in custody will be in the best interest of the child.

Can child decide custody

A child can express his or her wishes for custody at any age. They can’t make a decision, however, on their own. They can express the wish to the court and the judge will make a decision based on the individual case.

Parents Follow Visitation Orders.

Call Today

If you need help with child custody in Philadelphia, PA you can expect nothing less than exceptional service from the professionals at People's Justice LLC. We provide a full range of legal services and assistance. Give us a call today at 855-577-7673.