A parent wishing to modify a prior custody order in North Carolina must prove that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred since the prior order was entered and that modifying the court order would be in the best interest of the minor child(ren). What a court deems to be “substantial” enough to overcome this burden varies on a case-by-case basis, and can often be difficult to predict. Our Greensboro family law attorneys can help.
There are certain presumptions that often arise during initial consideration of a parent’s motion to modify, one being the length of time that has passed since the prior custody order was entered. It goes without saying that if there is a greater gap in time between the prior order being entered and the sought for modification, the circumstances are more likely to have changed and the changes are more likely to be significant. However, when the gap in time between the initial order and the motion to modify is shorter, there is often a knee-jerk reaction that circumstances could not have changed so much as to require a modification. Our Greensboro family law attorneys can help parents overcome this burden in some situations.
For example, our NC Court of Appeals recently overturned a lower court’s dismissal of a Father’s motion to modify. The lower court granted Mother’s motion to dismiss Father’s motion to modify on the basis that the prior order had only been entered 20 days prior to the Father filing a motion to modify. The Court of Appeals made it clear that the timing of the change in circumstance was not the determining factor of whether a change was substantial – major life changes can happen very suddenly (in this case, the Father lost his job which required frequent travel and which was a major factor in the court’s prior custody schedule).
If you aren’t sure whether you should ask for a modification of a prior custody order based on a substantial change of circumstances, come meet with our of our Greensboro family law attorneys to get a better understanding of how you can best succeed.