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Raleigh Child Custody Lawyer Answers the Question, "When Can Child Custody be Modified?"

R. Maria Hawkins - 9/21/2017

Image of Child Custody Agreement - Kurtz & Blum Law Firm Raleigh, NC

The saying “nothing lasts forever” can be true for many things, including child custody.  Once a permanent custody order is put into place, that does not mean it is there forever and it is important to remember that it can be modified.  

As a very experienced child custody lawyer in Raleigh, I talk to folks all the time who do not understand that even if your order states it is a “final order” it can always be modified, if the circumstances exist to do so.  

If you are interested in modifying your child custody order, you should seek out a qualified family law attorney for help.

When looking into modifying your custody order, you must first look at whether your order was temporary or permanent.  If you have a temporary order, you then need to look at when your order was entered.  North Carolina case law states that a “temporary” order can turn into a permanent order if neither party requests a hearing on permanent custody within a reasonable time.  

If your child custody order is truly temporary, then you do not need to show a change in circumstance, but only that the custody modification is in the child’s best interests.

If your order is not temporary, and is permanent, you must first prove to the court there is a substantial change in circumstance from the circumstances that existed at the time the order, and that that change has or will have an effect on the child.  The effect on the child can be for the good or the bad.  

This element must be met before the court will even consider the best interests prong of child custody.  If you are the moving party, the burden to prove these elements rests on your shoulders, so it is important to be prepared for your hearing with all of the evidence you may need.

So, what exactly is a substantial change in circumstance?  

Every case varies on the family’s circumstances, so it is always best to seek out an attorney regarding any child custody modification.  It is important to note that one parents continued violation of a child custody order can be a basis for modification of that court order.  

Some common examples that have allowed custody modifications are the prior schedule outlined in the order no longer works due to the child starting school, a parent has moved away, one parent has developed significant health problems and can no longer properly care for the child, the child has developed significant health problems, or one parent has taken significant action that is not in the child’s best interests.

These are only a few examples of changed circumstances that justify the court to consider modification of child custody.  

Be aware that once a motion is made, evidence can also be presented that will allow the court to modify the child custody in a way that you do not like.  If you are considering a child custody modification be sure to seek advice from an experienced family law attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  

It is also important to note that if you open the door to a custody modification, third parties (such as grandparents) can also intervene to seek custody and/or visitation.  

For more information on third party custody, click below to visit our website to read these articles...

Raleigh Family Lawyer Discusses Grandparents’ Rights To Child Visitation - Part I

Raleigh Family Lawyer Discusses Grandparents’ Rights To Child Custody - Part II

If you have questions or wish to schedule a low cost initial consultation with a child custody attorney, please give me a call today at 919-832-7700.

At Kurtz & Blum, we're in your corner.

 

 



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