Should I file for full custody or file a petition to modify?

Q: 5 years-ago I was granted full custody of my two sons. 3 years ago, their father changed jobs and had more stability in his life so I thought 50/50 custody would be good for them. This change was not done through the courts, so the last custody agreement on file is still the one from years ago with me having full custody. I don’t believe 50/50 is working well anymore now that the boys are older, and I would like to have full custody. Their father does not take them to any medical appointments, does not attend their IEP meetings or parent teacher conferences, will not bring them to sport practices on his weeks, does not make sure they’re doing any of their homework, and they just don’t seem to be a priority in general at his house. They also don’t have a bedroom at his house, they sleep in the living room. I was not happy when I found that out, but the boys didn’t have a problem with it when they were younger, so I let it go. Now that they’re older, it’s not okay anymore. So, my question is, which paperwork do I need to file since the 50/50 was a verbal agreement between us for the last 3 years? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Even though the last order was full custody with you, the pattern over the years has transitioned to 50/50 status quo now. I believe you need to file for a modification. It sounds like you have great reasons, but the change may not happen right away, unless the father, and the sons, agree to it. It will be better for you if the change in custody does not involve a change in school district. I would consult with and hire a custody lawyer if you can.

How do I appeal denial of child support?

Q: I was denied reconsideration by judge and the current child support modification is in place. My ex (divorce pending) retired at age 40 due to stress. Judge failed to consider earning capacity. As he is a healthy male with no physical or mental limitations. Please answer lost in pa

A: You need to file all the required appeals which would start with Exceptions to the Recommendations of the Hearing Officer. If the Judge affirmed the Hearing Officer, then you would file a reconsideration motion which it sounds like you have already done. Once the judge denies your reconsideration request, you have thirty days to appeal to the Superior Court. I would consult with an experienced Family Lawyer with who you can share all the facts and whom can advise you whether it is worth an appeal.

Can my divorce agreement be modified?

Q: When my agreement was made I was living with my elderly father in his home. He has since passed away. In his will the house was given to my brother, sister and myself. The problem for me now is that I must take a mortgage out to give my siblings their equal 1/3 of what the property is worth. My income after my financial obligations is maxed out and does not leave me the ability to pay on a mortgage. In fact, I do not have the ability to find a place to rent if we sold the house outright. The only reason that I was staying afloat was that I did not have a mortgage or rent payment to pay. Unfortunately, this was not considered when I signed a totally one-sided agreement. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: No one can answer this without looking at the agreement. If the agreement was incorporated and not merged into the divorce decree and the 30-day appeal period has lapsed, any terms agreed upon including alimony are probably binding. An experienced divorce attorney will know whether there is any chance of modification by looking at it.

What is custody law for parent with no water?

Q: My kids usually go every other weekend to see my ex. It concerns me as he has no running water in his house. I don’t know if I should send them knowing the living conditions of their dad. (West Newton, PA)

A:  I am sorry to hear that. You can probably file a motion to modify custody. It is a health and safety concern. First, you may want to investigate any programs that assist those that cannot afford utilities. If you can find a referral and he will not take advantage of it, you may have to go the legal route.

Can I get my father’ sexual offender status changed?

Q: My father is 73 in poor health and I am trying to find a way to get him to be able to live in his home with my mother. He has been out of jail for over 2 years with no issues. Is there anything I can do to modify his conditions, so he would be able to move back? (McKeesport, PA)

A: There is too little information here. If for whatever reason one of the terms or conditions of his parole or probation is that he cannot live with your mother, you will need to ask the judge whose probation he is on or the PA Board of Parole and Probation. He may be out of the time limits to file a modification of sentence. However, much more information is needed so I suggest you contact him or his attorney.