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Cary Custody Modification

At Triangle Smart Divorce, we’re committed to guiding you through the complexities of modifying child custody arrangements in North Carolina. We understand that life’s changes can necessitate adjustments to ensure the ongoing best interests of your child. We want to help you navigate these changes with clarity and confidence.

The Foundation of Custody Modification 

Child custody modifications are sought when significant life changes occur, making the original custody arrangement inappropriate or unworkable. In North Carolina, the Court maintains jurisdiction over child custody until your children are 18 so that their best interests continue to be served.  What this means is that custody is never set in stone, even if your order says it is for “permanent custody.”

There are two types of custody in North Carolina.

  1. Legal Custody: This refers to who has the authority to make significant decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, and religious instruction. Typically, we see parents retain joint legal custody and decision-making, like they did when they were together.
  2. Physical Custody: This refers to where the children’s primary residence is and who is dealing with their daily care. While we see parents typically have shared physical custody, that does not mean the children split their time 50/50. Exact custody schedules depend on each family’s specific situation.

Modifications can adjust either or both types of custody, depending on the child’s needs and the parent’s circumstances.

Grounds for Custody Modification in North Carolina 

Either parent can request modification of a child custody order at any time, but they must show the court that the circumstances of the child’s life have changed substantially and that changes to the custody order would be in the child’s best interest.

A substantial change of circumstances refers to significant alterations in the life of the child, the parent, or both that affect the child’s well-being since the last custody order was issued. The change must impact the child’s life in a way that the existing custody arrangement no longer serves their best interests.

Several scenarios can be recognized as substantial changes, including, but not limited to:

  • Relocation: A parent’s move that significantly impacts the custody arrangement or the child’s access to schools, healthcare, or the non-custodial parent.
  • Remarriage: The introduction of a new family member could affect the child’s living environment or dynamics within the household.
  • Change in Job: Shifts in a parent’s employment status, such as job loss, promotion, or changes in work hours, that affect the parent’s ability to care for the child.
  • Educational Needs: Changes in the child’s educational requirements, such as the need for special education services, a different learning environment, or more support at home.
  • Health Concerns: Significant developments in the health of the child or the custodial parent, requiring adjustments to the custody arrangement to ensure proper care.
  • Safety and Welfare: Concerns about the child’s safety or welfare, including instances of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect within the household.

Demonstrating Substantial Change for Custody Modification 

To successfully pursue a custody modification based on a substantial change in circumstances, it’s essential to provide compelling evidence. Documentation can include, but is not limited to:

  • Relocation Notices: Official documents or letters indicating a pending move.
  • Medical Records: Documentation highlighting significant health changes in the child or parent.
  • School Reports: Records showing a change in the child’s educational needs or performance.
  • Employment Documentation: Evidence of job change, including termination notices, new job offers, or changes in work schedules.
  • Legal Documents: Orders of protection or police reports in safety concerns cases.

The court can consider both positive and negative substantial changes. Like in most things, the negative changes are typically given more weight than the positive, which is why you need an attorney who knows what to emphasize to the court.

Other factors that are considered when a parent makes a motion to modify a custody order include:

  • The child’s desired custodial arrangement (if the child is of an appropriate age)
  • The age of a child
  • The emotional and physical health of a child or parent
  • Attempts by one parent to alienate the child from the other parent
  • Hindrance of visitation rights that negatively impacts the child
  • Exposure of the child to domestic violence or other harmful behaviors

An attorney who can paint a complete picture of your children’s life to a judge so that they understand why these changes, good or bad, necessitate a change to the custody arrangement will make all the difference in your case.

The Role of Mediation in Child Custody Modification 

All North Carolina custody cases not settled outside of court must usually go through the Custody Mediation Program before a judge can hear the matter. Even if you previously participated in custody mediation, another session might be required to modify the existing order.

If you cannot come to an agreement in mediation or outside of mediation, you will then have to proceed to court to seek your modification from the judge.

Triangle Smart Divorce: Your Partner in Custody Modification

If you need a child custody modification in North Carolina, let Triangle Smart Divorce support you. Our experienced legal team offers personalized advice, thorough representation, and the compassionate support you need during this time.

Contact us to schedule a comprehensive consultation, and let’s explore how we can assist you in achieving a positive outcome for your family. Together, we can navigate the challenges of custody modification with expertise and care, always prioritizing your child’s well-being and your peace of mind.

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