Child Custody Modification in North Carolina

Child Custody Modification

What are the grounds for child custody modification in the state of North Carolina?

North Carolina law offers no preferential treatment to either parent in case of child custody dispute, unless there are compelling reasons to do so. The court always considers the best interest of the child in awarding child custody.

Modification of Child Custody

The route to approaching child custody modification depends on whether the original custody plan is part of a separation agreement or a court order. In case of the former, either parent can request for modification in custody in writing to which the other parent may or may not agree. When the other parent does not agree, the parent filing for custody modification can approach the court. If child custody is part of a court order, the parent seeking modification needs to file a motion to modify the custody order with the court. The parents can, of course, agree on a modification and submit it to the judge for approval. This is commonly referred to as a consent order and is often the best approach.

Modification of Child Custody – What the Court Wants to Know

The court will consider modification of a child custody order only if the parent requesting the custody modification is able to prove substantial and material change in circumstances. Only after the court has been satisfied that the change in circumstances is both substantial and material, will it consider the ‘best interest’ of the child. This is to discourage frequent custody modifications that may have an unsettling effect on the child.

Grounds for Custody Modification

If the custodial parent is relocating to another state and such a move will impact the child’s stability, the court considers the circumstance significant to warrant custody modification. The court may modify custody and visitation considering the child’s best interest. This may include revised visitation schedules so that child is not deprived of time with the other parent.

If there is a significant change in the lifestyle of the custodial parent, which the other parent feels will adversely affect the child. For instance, if the custodial parent has taken on a new job that has longer working hours or the parent is leaving the child alone for long periods of time the court will consider modifying custody based on other factors. Though in most cases, either parent files for custody modification, interested third parties like grandparents and other relatives may also file for the same, if circumstances so warrant.