Can I Request a Change to a Child Custody Order?

3Can I Request a Change to a Child Custody Order?

When parents’ divorce, they come to an agreement regarding the custody of the children they have together. The judge makes the custody agreement part of the court order, usually called a permanent custody order, and you and your former spouse are required by law to follow what is in place. Generally, parents share custody with the children living primarily with one parent and having visitation with the other. You may wonder whether you can make changes to the child custody order after it is put in place. A knowledgeable family law attorney will guide you through the process.


Grounds for Child Custody Modification

In order for the courts to even consider a child custody modification, you must have a legitimate reason. There must be a change in circumstances that is negatively impacting the child. For example, a parent may be providing inadequate care and the other parent wants to protect the child. There are other reasons why a custody modification may be warranted. The child may wish to live with the other parent or the child’s needs may have changed over time. In these cases, parents may agree to the changes.


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In some instances, one parent feels that the other is harming the child in some way. The harm could be physical or emotional. For example, the parent may have a new partner who is not treating the child properly. The parent could have a drug or alcohol problem that is negatively impacting their ability to care for the child. These cases can be more difficult to handle because the other parent may not feel there is a need to modify custody.


Best Interest of the Child

The court will always protect children and will do what is in their best interest. If a child is in an environment that is not providing them with the care they need, the court will make changes. A parent cannot simply request a change to custody because they want to move or because they think they are a better parent. Instead, a parent who seeks to change custody must have a valid reason and must be able to prove their claim to the judge. During a modification hearing, both parents have the opportunity to tell the judge their reasons for wanting or denying a change in custody. The judge will review all factors in the case to make a determination.



How to Request a Modification

A custody order is a legal order and therefore, you cannot make changes without getting the order modified by a judge. If both parents agree to the change, you may be tempted to go along with it without formalizing the change in court. However, that could be a mistake. According to the law, the original order is still in place and the parent could change their mind at any time. You can request a modification hearing to seek a legal change to the custody order. While you are not required to have an attorney, it is strongly recommended that you get legal guidance for the process. Your lawyer will help to ensure that you provide the information necessary to resolve the matter in a favorable manner.


If you want to modify a custody agreement, we can help. To seek legal guidance about custody, contact our team of lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to request a consultation.




The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.



best interests (of the child) | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (

Child Custody | North Carolina Judicial Branch (


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