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Establishment of Child Custody or Modification of Child Custody?

The North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned a ruling which established child custody using the “best interests of the child” analysis when it should have applied the “substantial change in circumstances” analysis for a motion to modify child custody. In December 2006 the trial court entered a custody order which set the matter for review in February 2007. Said review never happened and an order was entered in February 2007 closing the file. In March 2009 the trial court entered another custody order pursuant to a motion in the cause for establishment of child custody applying the “best interests” analysis. The Court of Appeals ruled that the December 2006 custody order constituted a permanent custody order and the trial court was required to find that a substantial change in circumstance affecting the welfare of the child had occurred prior to entering a new custody order.