Modifying a Child Custody Order in North Carolina
North Carolina courts issue permanent child custody orders, but that doesn’t mean they always stay in effect unaltered. The law recognizes that children’s needs and parents’ situations change as time goes by. Courts will grant modifications of custody arrangements in certain situations upon a showing of good cause.
The parent seeking to modify child custody must prove three elements:
- There has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original custody agreement was entered.
- The substantial change affects the welfare of the child.
- It would be in the child’s best interests to modify the custody arrangement.
In most situations, the parent requesting modification must present facts specifically linking the substantial change in circumstances to the physical and/or emotional well-being of the child. Common reasons people seek child custody modification include:
- A parent’s relocation
- A parent moving in with a new partner (known as cohabitation)
- Remarriage of a parent
- Change in a parent’s financial condition
- Substance abuse by a parent
Whatever the reason for seeking modification, the key is to show how the child is affected. If you focus too much on how the change affects your own life, then you risk having your modification request denied. For example, you may want to modify child custody because your ex-spouse recently moved in with someone that you don’t like. While this act of cohabitation could qualify as a substantial change in circumstances, you would also need to show how your child is negatively affected by the altered household situation.
Evidence that can help connect your change in circumstances to the welfare of your child can come in various forms. Depending on the situation, courts may look for a mental health professional’s assessment of the child and testimony from school officials and others in a position to observe the child’s general health and welfare.
The other parent has the right to challenge the modification request. Typically, the court will hold a hearing at which the parents present arguments for and against changing the custody terms. Each parent should retain a qualified family law attorney to ensure that their interests are given proper treatment.
The Moore Law Office, PLLC has long experience representing parents seeking and opposing modifications of child custody orders in North Carolina. To speak with one of our experienced attorneys, please call our Asheville office at 828-333-4796 or contact us online.