How to Modify a Child Custody Arrangement

During a divorce, one of the most challenging aspects is determining a child custody arrangement that works well for everyone and is in the best interest of your children. Over time, changes may occur in your life or circumstances and your current agreement isn’t working for you anymore. Whether you and your co-parent worked out arrangements on your own and it was approved by the court, or a judge set the terms, our child custody attorneys in New Bern, NC are sharing the steps you need to take to modify child custody.

Child Custody Modification without a Court Order

During your divorce, if you and your spouse set the terms of custody and have a civil co-parenting relationship, you may be able to sit down and create a fair custody agreement. Often, having an attorney or mediator present ensures both sides are being treated fairly and communication remains productive during these discussions. If you collaborate on your custody modification, your attorney can submit the updated plan to the court for approval. Assuming the agreement is in the best interest of the child, it’s generally not a problem to ensure it’s approved.

If there is not a court-ordered child custody arrangement, and you and your ex-spouse had an agreement that one of you wants to modify and you don’t agree on the terms, this is more difficult. The parent, or the attorney acting on their behalf, will need to file and approach the court to hear the case for a modification.

Determining Grounds for Custody Modifications

If child custody is set through a court order, regardless of whether or not you and your ex-spouse can amicably create a modified plan on your own, the parent seeking to update the order must file a motion with the court. Often, if both parents agree on a plan, they can submit it to the judge for approval.

It is important to note that the court only considers modification if the parent requesting the change can prove significant changes in circumstances and an updated custody agreement is in the best interest of your children. This prevents frequent modifications that can be difficult or upsetting to a child’s routine.

Grounds for modification include:

  • Moving a far distance;
  • A change in work schedule;
  • Improved circumstances that allow for more time with the children

Additionally, a parent may want child custody modification if they feel their child isn’t safe with the other parent due to drug or alcohol use, abuse, or activities going on in the home. In these cases, emergency custody may need to be filed.

Do You Need a Child Custody Attorney?

Regardless of whether it’s an amicable update to an agreement or there’s a contentious custody debate about to take place, having an experienced attorney can lead to a more favorable outcome. Often, having an attorney who can file motions on your behalf and walk you through the process cuts down on the stress and uncertainty of custody modification, and in the event that the modification discussion requires a court hearing, you’ll need legal representation.

Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Child Custody Modifications Today

If you would like to modify an existing child custody agreement or order or you are concerned that your ex-spouse wants a custody agreement that is not in the best interest of your children, we can help. Schedule a consultation today at 252-320-7399 or fill out the contact form below to get started.

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