When Can a Child Custody Agreement Be Modified?

Posted on June 28th, 2023

Divorce is one of the hardest things in the world, and while life may get easier following the separation, co-parenting a child with your ex-spouse can be difficult. Some divorcees can remain civil with their ex-spouse, either because they had an amicable split or because they’re able to work together. But what about when they can’t, or there’s so much bad blood that they can’t change their routine without putting it in writing? Whether it’s at the request of one or both parents, changing the child custody agreement is called a modification, and it requires some legal knowledge.

The family law attorney at Kalinoski Law Offices can help if you or you and your ex-spouse require help modifying your child custody agreement.

What is a Child Custody Agreement?

A child custody agreement contains a set of rules that parents agree on about how they are going to take care of their children. This includes each of their legal rights, their custodial rights, visitation rights if necessary, and how they’re can spend their time with their children. These rights are permanent until the children are 18 years old. They can be as vague or specific as the parents and the courts agree is necessary. A custody agreement cannot be changed without filing for a modification.

While the court does not actively enforce the rules of the custody agreement day-to-day, if the parents agree to follow of different set of rules without an official modification, they could accuse the other of breaking the agreement later. This can lead to a power struggle between the parents over their child.

When Are You Allowed to Make a Modification to a Child Custody Agreement?

A child custody modification cannot be made at any time for any reason. When parents agree, changing the terms of the agreement can be relatively straightforward. However, the less amicable the parents are, the more work it will be to finalize the change. They can make modifications to better improve their visitation hours, change their decision-making power, and/or even seek physical custody.

Reasons for why a modification is necessary often include situations such as:

  • One parent’s work schedule has changed. When this happens, visitation times and rights may need to be altered. A child should not miss their parent because their work schedule and their visitation days don’t line up. The parent who wants the modification may need to prove that the change in the work schedule is out of their control. Often, the new visitation schedule will have to match both parents as best as possible. This means it may not always be the exact change you want, even if a change is granted.
  • One parent needs to move. Whether they’re moving far away or just far enough that transportation is an issue, one parent can seek to change the custody agreement to reflect this. This can lead to one parent getting more visitation hours at a time rather than shorter intervals of visitation.
  • One parent shows signs of alcohol or drug abuse. If one parent believes that the other parent has developed a substance addiction issue, they can file for primary physical custody. If they can prove that the other parents cannot be trusted to have physical custody, then the other parent will have specific and reduced visitation rights. They can require one parent to only be able to see their child while supervised by another adult.
  • One parent has abused the child. If one parent believes that the child has shown signs of abuse, they can seek to gain physical custody, perhaps even emergency physical custody, in the interim between court dates. Depending on the degree of abuse, one parent can lose physical and legal custody, and be sent to prison.
  • One parent is in an accident or develops an illness that leaves them unable to care for their child. Accidents happen and if one leaves one parent unable to meet the requirements of their child custody agreement, it will be changed to reflect the circumstances.

Contact Kalinoski Law Offices for Help With Modifications to Child Custody Agreements

Child custody is far from simple. There is so much that goes into caring and raising a child. If you feel that something needs to be updated in your custody agreement, you can trust Kalinoski Law Offices for help. Contact us today.

Share this Post
Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

Back to Top