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Can you modify a child custody agreement?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2024 | Child Custody

In North Carolina, divorce can be difficult for children. In many instances, they feel as if they are trapped in the middle. It is imperative that the parents think about the child’s needs as the case proceeds and strive to give them a nurturing and safe environment that benefits their development.

Part of that is ensuring their best interests are adhered to. This is true for determining which parent will have custody and how the parenting time arrangement will be organized.

As time passes, however, it might be necessary or desirable for a parent to want to change the child custody arrangement. This could be due to the child’s needs being different, a parent having personal issues that need to be addressed, and for myriad other reasons. There are legal steps that must be taken to modify a custody order whether the parents agree about it or not.

How can a child custody order be changed?

The circumstances will dictate what must be done to change the order. If it is a temporary order, then the only thing necessary is to schedule a hearing and file motions to change it. When it is a permanent order, there needs to be a motion to modify it.

The key to making the requested change is showing the court there has been a substantial change in circumstances to warrant it. This must substantially impact the child in such a way that modifying the order is required to serve the child’s interests.

For example, if a parent is having drug or alcohol problems and the other parent wants to shield the child, then this could be cause to request there be a change to the custody order. A parent could have a new job that takes up too much time to properly care for the child. Other reasons include relocation from the current residence; if the child needs to go to a special school; or there is a preference on the part of an older child mature enough to express their desires to live with the other parent.

It is important to take right steps to modify child custody

Since any legal issue related to children can be taxing emotionally and personally for everyone involved, it is useful to think about how to protect the child and adhere to their needs. Parents need to focus on the child when there is a child custody issue regardless of whether it is being dealt with as the divorce is moving forward or after there is a child custody order already in place.

Those who think that a child custody order cannot be changed just because it is “permanent” are mistaken. It can be changed. Knowing what to do to change it or to respond to the other parent requesting the change is critical.