Jul 19, 2021
Child Custody is Always Modifiable
Debbie Y. Schneider, Esquire, Attorney-Mediator at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation discusses.
Divorce is always difficult but divorcing couples with minor children are often doubly concerned about the impact that the divorce is having on their children. For many couples, I believe their child’s wellbeing is their sole focus. They understand that the divorce is going to impact their own lives in many ways, both major and minor, but they are adults, and are prepared to face the consequences. But their children don’t have a choice in the matter, and that emotional reality for many parents is very profound.
At the Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, we ask our couples to meet with a family/child therapist to establish a parenting agreement. We ask the couple to work together to establish a schedule for the overnight hours, but there is also a great deal of energy focused on the philosophical underpinnings of successful co-parenting, both now and in the future. We prepare our couples to address the inevitable questions that will arise for all parties. Sometimes at the outset my clients will ask me if the children are involved in the parenting mediation and the answer is always a resounding no. The parenting mediation is for the parents to make decisions; I also acknowledge that those parents with teenage children will likely voice their own opinions on the subject.
Often parents are concerned that once the decisions are made about custody they cannot be modified. This perception is not accurate. Modification is written into the Divorce Code in the custody section. Specifically, “custody remains modifiable based on a change of circumstances.” At Alpha we recommend our clients revisit custody as often as every six months, and we reassure them that as their children grow and everyone’s needs change, modification is part of the process.