In North Carolina, child custody orders can only be modified when there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the last order that affect the welfare of the child.
What can happen when there has been a change, but the change is not substantial or does not affect the child? By way of example, what if a child begins participating in a new activity that is scheduled during a time when the child is supposed to visit the other parent? Or, what if a parent’s work schedule changes in a way that causes slight inconvenience to the current parenting plan or a slight increase in childcare costs?
According to law in North Carolina, no. If a court does not make a ruling that a substantial change of circumstances has actually occurred and that change has affected the child, a court cannot change or “tweak” a child custody order. This essentially means that the court cannot make minor changes to the existing court order, even if they are necessary to make the current order work.
This is true even in relocation cases. A relocation, even involving a long distance relocation, is not presumed to be a substantial change of circumstances. The party seeking to modify the order to allow the relocation must show that the move will be substantial and will impact the welfare of the child. If no such impact is shown, a court may not modify the existing order even if the visitation provisions are impractical given the new circumstances.
If you are seeking a child custody lawyer in Huntersville, NC, contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.