How to make changes to your child custody arrangement

As children grow up in North Carolina, their schedules usually change. Children start going to school, attending sports practices or spending more time with friends. Likewise, divorced parents’ schedules can change when they get a new job or take on new responsibilities, necessitating a change in the custody schedule.

Requesting a change to a child custody arrangement

If you have a shared custody arrangement, you may have to request a change to the parenting schedule from time to time. The best way to do this is to work out a new schedule with your ex-spouse and then have the changes certified by a judge. If that’s not possible, you can go directly to the court to request a new child custody plan.

What a judge will look for

A family court judge is obligated to rule in favor of the best interests of children. Therefore, the judge will want to make sure that a change to the existing custody arrangement is absolutely necessary. You will have to demonstrate that a modification is needed because of a significant change in family circumstances. Some qualifying changes could be:

  • Change in residence
  • Change in work schedule
  • Change in the child’s needs
  • Change in parenting ability

A significant change in circumstances may not be necessary if the initial custody arrangement has never worked properly. In this case, you will have to show evidence that the existing custody arrangement is not meeting your child’s needs.

Anticipate changes before they happen

No parent wants the stress of more child custody hearings than is absolutely necessary. You may be able to avoid going back to family court by anticipating future schedule changes in your parenting plan. An attorney may help you create a parenting plan with your ex-spouse that addresses future changes in everyone’s schedule.