Custody Orders: modification and enforceability

The ending of a marriage in a divorce is a difficult and emotionally complex time for all of the parties involved. The determination of child custody can likewise be just as troubling, especially for children and a parent who is not awarded primary physical custody. However, there are avenues a non-custodial parent can pursue under Pennsylvania laws that may allow a court to modify these orders.

Though it may be hard to accept when a parent is denied physical custody of a child, it is not permissible to defy any court orders concerning this matter. Parents who believe that a court has erred in its decision concerning custody may petition for the court to revisit the issue when there are serious concerns about the overall well-being of the child. These matters must be more serious than conflict over simple decisions a custodial parent makes or over a new significant other in the parent’s life.

However, if one fears that a child is in danger with a custodial parent, the non-custodial parent is entitled to protect his or her child through legal means. This may include situations where a parent notices evidence of physical abuse that was possibly caused by the custodial parent or other serious harm or neglect that a child may be suffering. A parent can contact the appropriate authorities or petition the court for emergency relief.

Any court ordered decisions are legally binding. Serious consequences can result — including arrest — if a parent knowingly interferes with court ordered child custody agreements. Pennsylvania residents who are concerned that existing agreements are detrimental to their children should seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to talk about potential solutions. 

Source:, “Interference with court ordered child custody is a crime,” Bobby Guidroz, Jan. 23, 2018

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