What Is a Pennsylvania Post-Decree Modification Order?
It is possible to change an existing order of the court with a post-decree modification order. Post-decree petitions in Pennsylvania most often involve requests to change a Dissolution of Marriage, Annulment, Legal Separation, or Judgment of Paternity. They can be used to enforce a court order that already exists or to change a court order because of a change in circumstances.
There are a number of issues that can be handled with a post-decree motion. These include:
- Custody and visitation: It is possible to amend custody and visitation rights through a post-decree motion. However, the court will tend to favor leaving the order as decided. If you want to make a change, you will have to prove that your circumstances have changed since the original order was decided. If your ex has been arrested for domestic violence, has moved away, or refuses to share court assigned custody, it is time to request a change to the order.
- Child support and alimony: There are a number of reasons why you may need to modify either the amount of money you receive or the money that you have to pay. Modifications are sometimes allowed if you or your spouse’s financial situation has drastically changed. Career changes with significant financial losses could lead to a reduction in child support or alimony owed.
In general, the court will only make changes if you can show that there was a substantial change of circumstances, that the requested modification is in the best interest of everyone involved, and that the benefit of the change will outweigh any harm. These guidelines are particularly important in cases involving child custody. The court will want to make sure that the changes are in the best interests of the child.
In fact, the court may even appoint a guardian litem, an attorney responsible for representing the best interests of the child. The guardian litem may conduct interviews with the child and the parents. The guardian litem may even visit both homes and interview relevant witnesses before making a recommendation to a judge. This does not always happen, but this is one potential consequence of requesting changes to a child custody order.
It is important to have a family law attorney by your side throughout the modification process. Your attorney may conduct oral depositions, written interrogatories, written admissions, and request inspections and documents to build your case. You need an experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney who will help protect your rights every step of the way.
Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. can help. Contact us today at (610) 645-0100.