During divorces, parents usually get a time-sharing schedule for their children in two ways. It could either be an agreement among themselves in an amicable divorce setting or a court order in a litigation approach. Regardless of how you reach a time-sharing arrangement, it’s unrealistic to think that the same schedule will continue to work several years later.
The truth is that circumstances can change in three, five, or ten years. What then happens with the arrangement? Thankfully, Pennsylvania custody laws allow for modification of a time-sharing or child custody schedule throughout the child’s life. However, many parents don’t know the requirements they should meet to get a court-approved modification.
If you’re considering modifying your current time-sharing schedule, reach out to child custody lawyers in Media PA, for help.
Requirements for Modifying Time-Sharing Schedules
Generally, a court will not want to alter an arrangement currently working for the family for frivolous reasons. Therefore, a judge will only modify a time-sharing schedule under two circumstances.
The first condition is if the result of the modification will be in the child’s best interest. The court won’t approve a new arrangement that gives more parenting time to a parent that has previously been abusive towards the child.
The second requirement for modification is if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrants an alteration in the parenting plan. This change must be significant and permanent and not a result of the parent’s voluntary actions. If the change was known or anticipated at the time of drafting the original schedule, there might be no basis for modification.
Some significant changes include:
- A long-distance relocation
- A change in a parent’s ability to care for the child, such as physical or mental health challenges
- A long-term shift in a parent’s work schedule
- A change in the child’s needs due to age, health, etc.
- Death of a parent
Modifying The Time-Sharing Schedule
Modification by Agreement
The easiest way to modify a time-sharing arrangement is by a mutual agreement between both parents. If you and your ex can agree on the new custody schedule’s terms, the court will likely approve the changes.
The exception is if the schedule change isn’t in the child’s best interest. For instance, the court will frown at any arrangement that exposes the child to abuse or danger, irrespective of a mutual agreement. Additionally, it’ll be helpful to have child custody lawyers in Media PA review your mutual agreement before filing it in court.
Modification Through Court Order
When parents can’t agree on the terms of the new schedule or when one parent disagrees with modification, they’ll go through litigation. Both parties will appear at a court hearing and have a chance to present their arguments before a judge.
The judge will consider the child’s best interest and any substantial change in circumstances before approving the modification.
It’s more challenging to modify an existing plan than to obtain an original child custody order. It’s best to discuss with our child custody lawyers in Media, PA, if you need to modify your current time-sharing schedule.