How Can I Modify My Custody Order

How Can I Modify My Custody Order?

Modification of a NC Custody Order is a 3-Step Process:

First, if you have a North Carolina custody order, you must file a motion to modify with the court.  In your motion, you should list all the reasons you believe the order should be modified. For example, you are planning on moving out-of-state or the other parent has developed a substance abuse issue.

Second, a judge must find that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.   “A substantial change in circumstances” is a term of art in the legal field.  It basically means there must be a substantial change that has a large impact on the minor child (either good or bad).

So, if, like in the example above, you decide to move out-of-state, the move could be good for your child for several reasons. For instance, the move could put you closer to family so that you have a larger support network.  Your new job may also have greater flexibility so you can be there for your child more.

Conversely, if the other parent has developed a substance abuse issue, this could have a negative effect on the minor child.  In either case, the judge may find a substantial change in circumstances affecting the minor child occurred.

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Third, if a judge finds that a substantial change in circumstances occurred, the judge will decide which custodial arrangement is in the best interests of the minor child.  So, if the two of you shared joint legal and physical custody, the judge may decide that arrangement is no longer in the best interest of the minor child.  Instead, based on the facts presented at the modification hearing, the judge may decide that it is in the best interest of the minor child to give you sole legal custody and primary physical custody.

Modification of Out-of-State Custody Orders

If you moved here recently, you may not be able to modify your out-of-state custody order in North Carolina yet.  However, you can register it and use North Carolina courts to enforce it.  North Carolina will have jurisdiction to modify your custody order if, at the time of filing, your child has lived in North Carolina for six months or more and no party resides in the state in which the original custody order was granted.  If your situation is more complicated than that, you should consult an attorney to find out which state has jurisdiction for your motion to modify.

Custody Mediation Still Mandatory

Remember, custody mediation is mandatory in NC, even when you file a motion to modify custody.  Be prepared to attend mediation before your hearing.

Consent Orders

It’s always a possibility that you do not have to go to court.  You and the other parent could reach an agreement regarding a new custody schedule.  If you do, your attorney can draft a consent order for you, the other parent, and the judge to sign.

Because of the discretion judges have, modifying custody orders can be difficult and complex.  If you are interested in modifying your custody order, contact our office today to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney. 

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