Major Reasons to Request a Child Custody Modification

Going through a divorce is usually stressful, if not overwhelming. Most divorces require a great deal of emotional fortitude in order to get through the entire process. Dissolving a marriage involves dividing the marital property equitably, determining spousal support, and making decisions about child custody and child support. At the end of the day, when minor children are involved, most parents feel that this is the greatest area of concern and want to ensure that they have as much time with their children as possible in terms of child custody.

The courts will always use a standard called the “best interest of the child” in order to make these determinations regarding child support and child custody matters. Once the decisions are made, routines can be established between parents in order to provide a sense of stability for the children involved. However, as times change, the needs of children change, as well. Circumstances can vary and alter drastically in just a few years following a divorce as a child grows and has different academic, personal, physical, and emotional needs. In some cases, these needs are so substantially different that it may warrant a parent going back to the court to request a modification of their child custody order so that the child’s best interests will continue to be protected.

Reasons for Requesting a Child Custody Modification

While you have the legal right to file for a child custody modification, it must have a basis in some sort of changed circumstance that did not exist at the time of the divorce. North Carolina has further indicated that it is not only a change but a substantial change that needs to be shown. If you make the decision to attempt a modification of your child custody agreement, then you will have to prove that your circumstances changed drastically enough that the current child custody arrangement is no longer in the best interests of the child. Some of the reasons that a court will consider granting a child custody modification order may include the following:

Substantial Changes in Emotional and/or Physical Stability of a Parent

If there are significant or substantial changes in the emotional or physical stability of a parent, it may be grounds to request a child custody modification order from the court. Some of the circumstances that may support this type of change in custody would include the following:

  • One parent begins to abuse drugs or alcohol (has received DUIs, or criminal convictions based on drug use, etc.) or returns to abusing drugs and alcohol.
  • Frequently changes personal relationships and/or enters into marriages frequently, thus creating an unstable environment for a child, and no sense of continuity
  • Frequently loses jobs, or has job changes, or has a job with extremely unpredictable work schedules making it difficult to adhere to the original child custody arrangement
  • Emotional challenges of the parent creating instability in the home (such as receiving a diagnosis of a severe mental health condition that makes it challenging for the parent to properly care for a child)
  • Physical abuse in the home (Any physical abuse of a child would be a reason to not only seek a child custody modification but possibly a restraining order depending on the severity of the situation)
  • Changes residences frequently making it difficult for the child and creating an unstable and confusing environment
  • The failure of one parent to make the child available for visitation with the other parent according to the agreed-upon child custody schedule.
  • Complete relocation of the parent to another state or county due to a new marriage or a new job, which would make it difficult to continue with the existing child custody arrangement
Substantial Developments in the Emotional, Physical or Academic Needs of the Child

A court will always look at what is in the child’s best interest as they make decisions with regard to child custody modifications. If a child has any significantly different needs regarding their physical health, emotional health, or academic needs, it may warrant a change in the child custody arrangement. Additionally, if you have any suspicion that your child is being abused in any way with the other parent either emotionally, physically, or sexually, you should seek immediate help from law enforcement, and visit with an attorney in order to help you ensure the safety of your child.

Contact a Family Law Attorney

Contact our experienced family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Monroe, North Carolina at 704.370.2828 or online today for your initial consultation regarding how to modify your child custody arrangement.