Modification of Child Custody

Modification of Child Custody

A common misconception in North Carolina is that upon receiving a Permanent Child Custody Order, it will last until your child is eighteen years old. Even though the title has the word “permanent,” that is not always the case.

North Carolina law provides a way to modify an order that is in place. The governing law is found in North Carolina General Statute § 50-13.7, which states:

“Subject to the provisions of G.S. 50A-201, 50A-202, and 50A-204, an order of a court of this State for custody of a minor child may be modified or vacated at any time, upon motion in the cause and a showing of changed circumstances by either party or anyone interested.”

What the above statute means is that if you can prove a substantial change in circumstances which impacts the wellbeing of the minor child, your order providing for child custody may be modified. If you are the parent seeking to modify the prior custody order and you file a motion to modify, you have the burden of showing the “substantial change in circumstances,” as well as how the substantial change in circumstances impacts the wellbeing of the minor child. If you are unable to show a substantial change in circumstances which impacts the wellbeing of the minor child, the judge is required to keep the current order for custody in place. If you can show changed circumstances since the date of the last order, the court will then hear evidence to determine what is in the best interest of the child.

A common example of “changed circumstances” that a judge would find acceptable is a custody order entered when the child is an infant or toddler, and a parent who wants to modify the order once the child becomes of school age.

Please note that every case and set of facts are different. If you would like more information about whether or not your order could be changed, please contact one of our Family Law attorneys to schedule a consultation.


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