There may come a time when your child custody order doesn’t work for you or your child. While you cannot just ignore the terms of the order, even if you consented to it during your divorce, there are specific circumstances in which you can request a modification by the North Carolina court.
What Do I Need to Ask for a Modification?
You must have an existing order that is able to be modified. You should check your existing North Carolina child custody order to make sure it was signed by a judge.
Many times, parents file a child custody case and then settle the disagreement out of court and dismiss the child custody case in the North Carolina courts. If this is your situation, then you aren’t looking for a custody modification, but you are instead requesting an initial child custody determination.
Are There Legal Requirements in North Carolina to Seek a Modification?
Even if you have a valid child custody order, that doesn’t always mean you can get a modification in child custody. There are specific legal requirements that you must meet in order to win your claim for a North Carolina child custody modification.
They include a two-step test:
1. You need to answer the question as to whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the child since the original child custody order has occurred.
2. Then, you need to explain why modifying your child custody order would be in the best interest of your child.
For example, if the North Carolina child custody order you have in place was entered when your child was a baby, and your child is now older, the old schedule may not work.
Another example would be if you or your ex-spouse lost their job and/or was forced to move away, or if you or your ex-spouse constantly fail to follow the existing North Carolina child custody order.
It could be that you or your ex-spouse has some health issues that have an impact on their ability to parent and/or take care of your child. Another extreme example is if you or your ex-spouse have gone or are going to be going to jail.
Every individual case is different, and you may have more than one factor that would show a North Carolina court that a substantial change in circumstances has taken place.
Your North Carolina motion for modification needs to specifically state what substantial changes have taken place.
Next, you must be able to show that a North Carolina child custody modification would be in the best interest of your child. This is the single most important factor a North Carolina judge is going to consider before modifying a child custody order.
It’s important for you to remember that when you appear in a North Carolina court for any child custody matter, there isn’t any guarantee as to how the judge will rule.
If the North Carolina court finds that there has been a substantial change in your circumstances, they may agree that your proposed new schedule would be in your child’s best interest, or they could agree with the proposal of your ex-spouse.
Additionally, the North Carolina court may come up with their own schedule that they believe would be in the best interest of your child.
You are also allowed to request attorney’s fees along with your motion to modify child custody, but it would be up to the judge whether to grant your request.
Do I Need A Charlotte Child Custody Lawyer for My Modification Case?
It would be in your best interest to retain the services of a North Carolina child custody attorney for your modification case. The child custody lawyers at the Charlotte, North Carolina law firm of Remington & Dixon can assist you in determining if you meet the criteria for a child custody modification and assist you in this matter.
It’s important to note that when you and your North Carolina child custody lawyer file for a child custody modification, this gives the court a lot of power. The North Carolina attorneys at Remington & Dixon often advocate for using methods of alternative dispute resolution before you put the court in the position that they have to decide your child custody issue.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.