Modifying Child Custody and Visitation in North Carolina

Child custody matters can be challenging and alarming. If you and your co-parent don’t agree on visitation and shared custody, the court will decide the matter for you. But sometimes circumstances change in your child’s life or the life of your co-parent.

When this happens, it may be possible to petition to modify your permanent child custody order.  The expert family law attorneys at King Law Offices have the experience and knowledge to help you bring you and your child closer together.

How Custody or Visitation is Determined in North Carolina

North Carolina courts are principally concerned with the best interest of the children during hearings on custody and visitation rights. The idea is to ensure the child’s life does not get too unsettled during the breakup of his or her parents. Judges examine the child’s current living situation, his or her relationship with each parent, and each parent’s capabilities when caring for the child.

Additionally, judges often consider the following in terms of the child’s security:

  • The overall safety of the child;
  • Whether either parent has been accused of committing an act of domestic violence; and
  • The safety of a parent who has been the victim of an act of domestic violence.

The court will also take into consideration the requests of the parents. Either parent may file for custody, or both parents may elect to share custody. When custody is decided, the court will outline the terms of the decision in writing and will also give visitation instructions, if applicable.

Once a custody order is in place, the process to modify it will differ depending on how the court issued the original order:

  • The parents can agree to a custody modification and submit it to the judge as a consent order.
  • If the original custody arrangement was part of a separation agreement, either parent can request modification, and the other parent can agree or disagree. If the parent disagrees, the original requester can approach the court for modification.
  • If the original custody agreement was by court order, then the parent seeking modification must file a motion with the court.

When Can I Attempt Custody Modification?

Once a custody order is in place, the judge will typically only modify it if there has been a substantial and material change in the child’s circumstances since the original order. North Carolina courts want to discourage frequent custody modifications because they usually uproot a child’s life, school, and community.

Examples of substantial and material changes might include:

  • One parent relocating to another state,
  • A new job leaves the child alone for long hours,
  • A significant change in finances, or
  • An arrest.

While a parent usually files a motion to modify a child custody order, interested third parties like grandparents or other close relatives may request custody modification from the court.

Hire a Family Law Firm You Can Trust

Child custody disputes can be stressful. You want the best for your child and, whether you’re fighting a custody modification or requesting one, the process can be overwhelming if you try to handle it alone. At King Law Offices, our skilled family law attorneys are well versed in helping families through custody matters. We are licensed in and familiar with both North Carolina and South Carolina law, so give us a call at (888) 748-KING (5464) or contact us online. We can review your options and help you find the best path forward for your family.