NBI Seminar: Child Custody and Visitation Rights: Motion for a Change of Custody or Visitation
As I have posted recently (see here), I had the great opportunity to lead (perhaps “teach”) a continuing legal education seminar hosted by the National Business Institute (a.k.a. NBI, see here). The subject was “Family Law From A to Z” and I had opportunity to speak on two main topics in particular: Custody and Ethics. I was joined by four other capable attorneys who each had their own topics to present.
Although NBI published the materials, I retain the ownership of the portions I wrote, which I will post here in this blog.
Copied below are the materials I wrote for the section entitled “Child Custody and Visitation Rights: Motion for a Change of Custody or Visitation.”
III. CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION RIGHTS
B. Motion for a Change of Custody or Visitation
A party to a custody order has a right to seek its modification. Contrary to popular belief, one does not need to allege that there has been a change in circumstances in order to seek, or have, a modification of a custody order. The form and process of drafting and filing a petition to modify custody is substantially the same as a complaint for custody and the series of hearings which follow are also the same.
- Philadelphia: http://www.courts.phila.gov/pdf/forms/domestic-relations/prose-pet-to-modify-custdy.pdf
- Montco: https://www.montcopa.org/DocumentCenter/View/320
- Delaware: http://www.co.delaware.pa.us/ojs/ojsforms/CustodyOrderModify.pdf
- Bucks: http://www.buckscounty.org/docs/default-source/row-officers-documents/custodymodificationdec2015.pdf?sfvrsn=0
There are instances where an attorney files something entitled a complaint (or petition) to “Confirm Custody.” It does not appear that such a filing is derived from an actual procedural category or practice. Instead, it merely appears to be a standard complaint or petition for custody given a different title for, apparently, the sole purpose of giving the filer some sort of rhetorical capital or high ground, as “confirming custody” implies that person is already entitled to custody and is merely filing to “confirm” it. Alternatively, it is sometimes used in situations where there is already an existing “informal” custody arrangement (i.e.: without a court order), and the person filing merely wishes to “confirm” that custody arrangement in a court order. This merely appears to be a stylistic preference, and not based on any law or procedure, and, therefore, has no practical effect on a custody matter.