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Circumstances that May Warrant a Change in a Custody Order

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Once established, the Court's are very unlikely to change an order granting primary physical custody to a party, unless there are substantial reasons to do so.

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Esq, Managing Partner

I recently had a case where some major changes had occurred in the custodial situation between the two parents.  The prior case law in PA required that the party requesting the change, show there has been a "substantial change in circumstances" that would warrant a change in custody.  The new rules in PA do not require such a showing, however, most lawyers and judges look for this regardless. 

So, what are some things that are considered a "substantial change in circumstances?":

1)  The living arrangements of either party;  have they moved, changed addresses, have other people moved in, or are they living in deplorable living conditions?

2)  The work schedules of either one or both parties;  does the custodial parent have less time to spend with the child due to a work schedule?

3)  The habits of either party have changed;  is there a drug problem, alcohol abuse, or even worse- abuse of the child?

4)  There are other issues with the child;  the child is doing worse in school, the child is not doing well in the custodial parent's home, the child is older and expresses an interest in living with the other parent?

These are but a few of the circumstances that could lead a court to consider a change in custody.  They are by no means all the circumstances that would lead to a change.  Further, these circumstances should be assessed individually and combined to determine if such factors warrant a change in the order.  It all depends on the individual facts of each case.  If you have questions or concerns, call the custody team at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, toll free or email us today.

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