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Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

Helping You With Child Custody Order Modifications

Often we find people need assistance with modifying custody orders that were previously entered to create a better living environment for themselves and their children.

Modifying a custody order in North Carolina is not as simple as just asking a judge to change it. There are essentially two tests that a moving party must pass to change an existing custody order.

Substantial Change Of Circumstances Test

Substantial Change of Circumstances that Affect the Interests of the Minor Child: This is the first test or burden a moving party who wants to modify the existing order must show for a court to continue on and modify the order.

North Carolina courts have held that the following may be grounds that meet the Substantial Change of Circumstances test:

  • Violation of a Court Order
  • The Child’s Present or Future Well-being
  • The Personality, Conduct or Character of Either Parent
  • The Environment Where the Child is Living or Visiting
  • The Child’s Wishes (Depending on the Child’s Age)
  • Moving of One Parent to a Distant County or Another State and that Move would Substantially Affect the Welfare of the Minor Child
  • Recent Drug or Alcohol Charges Against One Parent
  • Acts of Domestic Violence
  • Overcoming Drug or Substance Abuse Addiction
  • One Parent Demeaning or Verbally Abusing the Other Parent in Front of the Child
  • Extramarital Sexual Affairs or Conduct by One Parent
  • Whether a Parent Tries to Impede or Frustrate the Visitation of the Other Parent to the Point It Adversely Affects the Minor Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Neglect of the Minor Child or Children
  • Parental Dating or Involvement with a Boyfriend or Girlfriend Convicted of Past Crimes or Sexual Misconduct
  • Drastic Improvements in One Parent’s Life

Not all changes must be bad; some can be positive or good changes as well. The change must be substantial – that is the operative word – and it must also directly affect the child.

North Carolina law does not always assume that one parent moving is a substantial change of circumstances that will justify a change in custody. As the North Carolina Supreme Court has said:

“[T]he court’s primary concern is the furtherance of the welfare and best interests of the child and its placement in the home environment that will be most conducive to the full development of its physical, mental, and moral faculties. All other factors, including visitorial rights of the other applicant, will be deferred or subordinated to these considerations, and if the child’s welfare and best interests will be better promoted by granting permission to remove the child from the State, the court should not hesitate to do so.”

After the First Test of Substantial Change in Circumstances Affecting the Minor Child is met, the court must then determine whether modifying the existing order is in the child’s best interest. This turns on the Best Interest of the Child Test as set forth by North Carolina courts. Please visit our Child Custody Page for a list of relevant factors that a court may consider.

At the end of the day, each case is unique and must be addressed by an attorney and a law firm that will take the time to get to know your individual set of facts and circumstances. At Nielsen Legal, we will provide you with personalized and attentive service and provide honest assessments of your case.

Set up your consultation today to see how we can best serve you. Call 828-564-1321.