A common question asked by a noncustodial parent is, can a sole custody order be reversed? The short answer is yes, it is possible to modify child custody orders, but the issue may need to be litigated before a Judge, if the custodial parent is opposed to changing the original ruling. The experienced Philadelphia child custody lawyers at Schwartz, Fox, and Saltzman, LLC have litigated child custody modification matters for over 40 years.
This article provides information on how to reverse a sole custody ruling or modify a child custody agreement in Pennsylvania.
Reversing Sole Custody Decisions in Pennsylvania
As the parent requesting to change custody in Pennsylvania, you must file a Petition to Modify with the original court which issued the original custody order. You are not required to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances to justify the trial court revisiting the child custody order. Noncustodial parents often seek to change custody due to:
- Instances of domestic violence
- The custodial parent develops a substance abuse issue
- The noncustodial parent successfully undergoes treatment for substance abuse
- A deterioration in the custodial parent’s physical health which affects the custodial parent’s ability to care for the child
- The custodial parent displays erratic behavior, which endangers the child’s safety or life
- Physical relocation, i.e., the custodial parent moves
- One parent or the other parent remarries
- The custodial parent refuses to allow the other parent to visit the child or violates a visitation schedule
- The non-custodial parent desires a change in the custody arrangement
Why a Judge Would Change a Custody Order
Under Pennsylvania law (§5338(a) of the Custody Statute in Pennsylvania), a petition to modify custody is evaluated under the best interest of the child standard (§5328(a)). This means a judge decides whether modifying custody is in the child’s best interest instead of benefiting the noncustodial parent, e.g., obtaining a reduction in child support payments. As the noncustodial parent bears the burden of proving the custody modification serves the child’s best interest, they must present evidence in court.
The Type of Custody You Want to Change To
When you want to reverse a sole custody order, you must decide what type of custody arrangement you want to replace the current custody agreement. This could be joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or some other type of shared custody arrangement. Courts in Pennsylvania favor child custody arrangements in which both parents share legal and physical custody, as this allows the child to maintain a strong relationship with both parents, so long as such arrangements are in the child’s best interests.
Talk with an Experienced Child Custody Attorney
It is crucial to speak with an experienced child custody attorney if you are considering petitioning to modify a court order granting your former spouse or romantic partner full custody. At Schwartz, Fox, and Saltzman, LLC, we can help you build a case proving your child’s best interest is served by the change in custody and can represent you at a child custody hearing.Contact us today for a free consultation.
Summary of Reversing a Sole Custody Order in PA
Unless both parents agree to modify child custody, you must prepare and file a child custody modification petition in the court which issued the original order. You must prove to the judge the change in custody is in your child’s best interest. Working with an experienced family law attorney can help ensure your rights are protected and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your child custody case.