Child Custody Modification
Once you have a permanent child custody order entered by a judge, issues can arise that require you to reconsider certain terms or aspects of your divorce proceeding. Life can be unpredictable, so North Carolina courts have created a system whereby parties to a divorce can seek a modification of child custody arrangements after the divorce is finalized. Generally, one spouse will file a Complaint for child custody to initiate the child custody process soon after the parties start living separately and are legally separated. Understanding your rights is one of the most important steps that you can take when considering a child custody modification, as well as consulting a Charlotte or Concord child custody lawyer. At the Olsinski Law Firm, we are ready to help you assert your rights.Child Custody Modifications in North Carolina
To change some aspect of a child custody order, you must seek court approval. A court will grant a modification of a child custody order when there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the general welfare of the child since the time of the entry of prior order, and that a modification of the prior order is in the best interest of the child.
Often times a modification of child custody is due to the relocation of one of the parents, which prevents the parties from exchanging the child/children in compliance with the terms of their child custody order. The state that issued the initial child custody order has continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over the issue of child custody modification. Jurisdiction can be transferred to another state if neither parent nor the child continues to reside in the state that issued the order. The state that issued the original child custody order must order the child custody case transferred to another state where a parent and/or the child resides.
The judge presiding over your child custody modification hearing will review the current child custody order and the evidence presented at trial to determine, whether a substantial change in circumstance has occurred since the prior order was filed. Generally, circumstances that rise to the level of a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification are changes in a parent’s employment schedule, changes in the child’s educational needs and/or performance, an increase in the child’s age that renders the original order unsuitable, a parent habitually failing to abide by the order, relocation, a parent incurring significant health problems that reduce their ability to care for the child, or a parent being incarcerated.
If the judge determines that a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child has occurred, then the judge will examine whether child custody modification would be in the best interests of the child. This can be a difficult step in the process because there is a subjective aspect of this determination and judges have broad discretion in making this determination. The parties can present evidence on what they believe is in the child’s best interests, but the ultimate determination is up to the judge. As part of this phase, you can suggest the exact modifications that you would like to make, such as changing the custody schedule or which parent has final decision making authority concerning health care decisions. An experienced and knowledgeable child custody attorney can help you come up with a strategic approach to seeking a modification of a child custody agreement, or to defending against a proposed modification with which you disagree.Seek Advice from a Dedicated Child Custody Lawyer in Charlotte or Concord
Family law matters are often stressful and emotionally intense for the parties involved, especially when they do not agree about the best way to care for a child. At the Olsinski Law Firm, we pride ourselves on using our experience and knowledge to help families find the appropriate solution for their unique situation. We understand how daunting the legal system can be, which is why we offer a free consultation to help you understand your legal rights. We have served clients in many locations in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties, including in Charlotte, Concord, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Cornelius, Davidson, Pineville, Kannapolis, Harrisburg, Midland, and Mount Pleasant. To schedule a free consultation, call our Charlotte office at 704-405-2580 or our Concord office at 704-918-4747, or contact us online.