Once a family court makes a final decision on the custody rights of divorced or separated parents, both parents are bound by its terms either until the child reaches the age of majority or until a substantial change in circumstances renders the order untenable. If any part of your custody order no longer works for you, your co-parent, or most importantly your child, you must formally petition the court to modify it before you can make any changes yourself, as any deviation from its terms could have substantial consequences.
A Guilford child custody modification lawyer can help you pursue changes to your parenting time schedule without violating state law. From start to finish of the petitioning process, your child custody attorney’s advocacy may be crucial to protecting not only your child’s interests, but yours as well.
In order for a Guilford court to grant a modification of custody, the party or parties petitioning for the alteration must show that a significant change in circumstances has occurred. A significant change is one that is both material to the child in question’s wellbeing and substantial enough to make the original order obsolete. Situations like one parent moving to a different state, one parent losing their job, or the child contracting a serious medical condition may serve as grounds for a custody modification in some situations.
Regardless, anyone who has grounds to seek a parenting time modification has the burden of proving not only that the change in circumstances exists, but also that modifying their existing custody order would better serve the child’s best interests. This may involve proving that the existing custody order would actually harm the child’s welfare if left unmodified to accommodate the family’s new circumstances.
If a substantial change in circumstances has occurred after a child custody order is established, the parent(s) petitioning for a modification may begin the formal legal process by filling out and submitting a Motion for Modification along with the necessary filing fee to the appropriate Superior Court Clerk’s office. Petitioners who have not already done so will also need to submit a completed Appearance form with their original motion, and certain scenarios may necessitate the completion and filing of an Affidavit Concerning Children, as well. A local lawyer can provide significant advice and guidance throughout the child custody modification process, including with requesting a fee waiver if necessary.
After signing the Motion for Modification, the Clerk will return the originally submitted forms to the filing party with a time, date, and location for a hearing, during which the petitioning party or parties can present their arguments and evidence for why a custody modification would be appropriate. All petitioning parties must bring a completed Financial Affidavit with them to the custody modification hearing.
Importantly, applying for a modification to a child custody order is not the same as appealing the imposition of one. There are various qualifying conditions that must be met before a parent can even have their modification request heard, and the burden of proof to show that a change in custody is warranted can be difficult to take on alone.
Assistance from a Guilford child custody modification lawyer can make a world of difference in your ability to obtain the resolution you want from this process. Call our team today for a private consultation.