A child custody order can be modified if the parent requesting it can prove a substantial and material change in circumstances. The parent moving to modify the existing custody order must first meet the test of substantial change in circumstances for a Judge to consider a modification. A material and substantial change in circumstances alone, is not enough to warrant a modification of an existing custody order. Once the substantial and material change of circumstances test has been met, then the Court will take into consideration the best interest of the child.
The parent seeking modification of custody has two high standards to meet: 1) the substantial change in circumstances and 2) the modification is in the best interest of the child. The standard to modify a custody order is high in order to prevent frequent custody modification that can have an negative impact on the child.
What can qualify as a substantial and material change in circumstances? Some examples include: one parent making a move to a different school district or state, a change in one parents work hours that affects the minor child, when a parent has violated a court order, acts of domestic violence, one parents attempts to impede or frustrate the visitation of the other parent, drastic improvements in one parent’s life or any other change that could adversely or beneficially affect the minor child. Note that the change in circumstances does not need to be negative, it could be a positive change in one parent’s life that would create a substantial change in the child’s life.
Judges will look at a series of factors when determining if a modification should occur. Those factors often include:
- How the alleged change has affected the child’s life (whether positively or negatively);
- The age of the child;
- The wishes of the child;
- Stability for the child;
- Whether a modification is realistic for a custody and visitation schedule.
There are many additional factors that can be considered based on the grounds alleged for modification. Every case is unique and is best discussed with an attorney who can discuss your specific set of facts and the specific circumstances surrounding your desire to seek a modification of an existing child custody order.
If you want to modify your custody order, it may be time to talk to an attorney to discuss your options. King Law’s team of attorneys in North and South Carolina are here to help you. Call us today at 888-748-5464 to schedule a consultation.