A Pennsylvania child custody modification request is not unusual after a divorce is final and circumstances have changed, such as a party’s relocation to another state or problems relating to the proper care of his minor children.
In Pennsylvania, family law courts will utilize the “best interest” of the child analysis when determining if a child custody order should be modified. Under the law, a custody determination must be made based on the best interests of the child.
The Pennsylvania Statute, section 5328, sets forth factors the court must consider in the “best interest analysis” and they are outlined in the article “Pennsylvania Child Custody Factors.”
The court considers it to be in the best interests of the child to have both parents be a part of their lives in a consistent and ongoing manner. Evidence and testimony presented should be based on the above analysis.
In a Philadelphia custody modification case, generally the first listing is in front of a Master. A Master is a lawyer who sits as the fact finder and can make recommendations and/or binding orders dependent on what level of custody a parent is seeking.
Parties should be fully prepared with witnesses and evidence at the Master’s level in the event the Master has a full record hearing (meaning there will be a transcript of the proceedings) and issues an order.
In the event that the Master does not issue an order or in the event either party disagrees with the recommendation/order, either party may request a hearing before a Judge.
In Philadelphia, hearings before judges are record hearings and the judge will generally issue an order at the end of the custody proceedings.
Philadelphia Divorce and Custody Lawyer
It is imperative that you are fully prepared and organized at each hearing, whether it be before a Master or a Judge. This cannot be emphasized enough.
Our rights to our children are constitutional rights. The procedures in the family division of the circuit court may seem simple and children-oriented, but they are complicated. The mistakes you make can have lasting, non-modifiable consequences.
Cordell & Cordell has offices and family law attorneys located in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Radnor should you seek additional information or possible legal representation.