There are several reasons why a previous child custody and visitation order may no longer be the right fit for your family. There may be significant life changes for you or your ex-partner, or the order may no longer fit your child’s interests. Though not everything qualifies your custody or visitation court order for modification, some changes will. It’s useful to work with an attorney experienced in child custody court order modifications to determine if your circumstances allow for modification.
At Parsons Law, PA, we are dedicated to helping families maneuver the complexities of the family law system. You and your ex-partner may both want the same modifications made, or you may disagree about the interests of your child or children. It’s important that your viewpoint is represented. We advocate for your parental rights and your child’s interests, and we can help you in mediation and in court. When you work with our experienced Asheville family law attorneys, we provide you with legal guidance while aiming to lessen the impact of stress on your children.
North Carolina courts focus primarily on the interests of the child when determining visitation and custody. Many factors are considered, including:
The court then provides a court order that will outline custody and visitation.
However, life changes for many families, and initial court orders may not always fit new circumstances. If a significant change has adversely affected your child’s life, you can apply for modification. Or, if the other parent has violated the court-ordered terms, you can also motion for modification.
You have to prove that there is a significant reason for child custody modification. This is because the court wants to ensure that children don’t see too much change in their custody and visitation, as that, too, can have an adverse effect. A significant reason for modification may be one or multiple of the following examples:
You will have to show evidence of these reasons and prove that they adversely impacted your child’s physical or emotional health. A family lawyer is able to help you gather the necessary evidence and advocate for modification effectively.
When you work with an attorney, they can help you file the necessary forms to file a motion for modification. Then, North Carolina requires you to go through a Custody Mediation Program. This doesn’t mean that you and your ex-partner need to reach an agreement during mediation, but the goal is a discussion about your child’s needs and interests. Ideally, you both come to an agreement for modifications. If mediation does not lead to an agreement, then the decision is taken to court for a hearing.
When you and the parent of your child can’t come to an agreement or your ex-partner actively contests the modifications you are requesting, it’s particularly important to have legal representation. An attorney can act as a third-party mediator in mediation or advocate for you and your child’s interests in a hearing. While it’s often useful for parents to reach a compromise together, this isn’t always possible. Be sure to protect your parental rights.
A: There is a $20 fee to file for a Motion for Modification of Custody or Visitation Order in North Carolina. This motion must be signed in front of a notary public. There may be other costs for modification, such as legal representation or court costs if you enter a hearing. Because the Custody Mediation Program participation is mandatory, it doesn’t cost you to attend.
A: If you have a permanent custody order from North Carolina courts, you can file a Motion to Modify those orders. You file this motion if there has been a significant change in your, your child’s, or other parent’s life, and these changes adversely affect your child. Once you file this motion and several other documents with the Civil Division of the Clerk of Superior Court’s office, you and your ex-partner must attend mediation to discuss modification.
A: Court-appointed attorneys are not provided for most civil cases, including child custody and child custody disputes. In specific situations, such as Child Protective Services looking to remove one parent or a federal investigation into a parent’s failure to provide court-ordered child support, you are entitled to court-appointed legal representation. Otherwise, it’s important to find your own legal counsel to ensure the process is fair and that any agreements you and your ex-partner make are legally enforceable. If you have to settle modification through a court hearing, your attorney is an invaluable asset.
A: A substantial change in circumstances means that court-ordered custody and visitation are no longer in the child’s interests. For example, if one parent is moving to another state or several hours away, and the previous court order mandated visitation every few days, this is no longer practical and not conducive to your child’s interests. Other substantial changes include child abuse, drug dependency, remarriage, or a change in the child’s wishes.
A skilled Asheville family law attorney will look out for your rights and interests during modification. We understand that the outcomes of family law cases can impact your entire life and can be difficult to deal with. We want to help make the process easier. Contact Parsons Law, PA, today for advocacy.
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