My 15-year-old son has been asking to move in with me for several months. What steps should I take to modify our custody agreement?
Please be advised that I am barred in Pennsylvania and will answer your question based on my expertise and experience in Pennsylvania.
In this state, if the opposing party is agreeable to a change in custody, then a custody stipulation may be filed with the court. If the opposing party is not in agreement with the change, then you must file a petition to modify custody in order to have a hearing(s) scheduled with the court.
When making a determination in custody, whether an original action or modification matter, the court performs a best interests of the child analysis. In Pennsylvania, the best interests of the child analysis takes into consideration factors such as the ability of the parents to co-parent, the history of drug, alcohol, or physical abuse of either party, which parent is better able to provide stability for the child, the child’s preference, etc.
The child’s preference is only one factor in this analysis, however, if the child is of sufficient maturity, the judge assigned to the case will speak to him or her in chambers, without the parents present, to inquire as to his or her preference. In Pennsylvania, the Court does look at the status quo custody arrangement leading up to a hearing, so it is favorable for the party seeking additional custodial time if they are able to increase their time with the child prior to court (without being in contempt of the order).
You should schedule an initial consultation with an attorney barred in this state at the earliest opportunity to discuss the facts of your case and your options for relief in detail.