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When can child custody or visitation order be modified in North Carolina?

When parents divorce, separate or share a child but are not in a relationship, they oftentimes have a child custody arrangement in place. When ruling on custody or visitation arrangement, the family court’s decision is always focused on the best interests of the child.

Sometimes, however, one parent may be dissatisfied with the current child custody or visitation arrangement. When this happens, the dissatisfied parent may want to petition the court for custody modification. However, the parent seeking modification must convince the court that this will not only be in the best interest of the child but also that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original order was given.

Here are three examples of situations that might be considered significant enough to warrant a custody change:

Changes to the child’s needs

Children’s needs keep evolving with age. For instance, a child may sign up for a new extracurricular activity, like a sport, that best fits in with the other parent’s strengths or work schedule. They may also have different educational or health needs that can be better addressed when living with the other parent. 

Changes to the circumstances of the parent or parents

A substantial change in either parent’s circumstances may also warrant custody modification. Examples of substantial parental changes may include:

  • Loss of income
  • A permanent change in lifestyle that has the potential to negatively impact the child’s welfare
  • Emotional, mental or physical health challenges
  • Drug or substance addiction
  • Long-term incarceration

When one parent is no longer physically or mentally capable of caring for a child, that often prompts a need for changes.

Constant breaches of custody or visitation terms

A custody ruling is legally binding and both parents are required to comply with its terms. If one party is persistently breaching the custody terms, the parent who is honoring their end of the deal may petition for changes to the orders.

Your relationship with your child is precious, so don’t let a custody order that no longer works for your family stand in your way. Find out more about your legal options today.