When life circumstances change, your child custody order may need an update to meet your family’s needs. This scenario is common when you agreed to a specific visitation schedule when your children were young and it no longer works as well as it once did.

Follow these steps to request modification of a North Carolina child custody order.

Filing a motion

You can request custody modification in the face of changed circumstances such as a move or a new work schedule, as well as when the other parent has not complied with the custody order’s terms. Once you file the required documents, the court will schedule a hearing.

Bring several signed and notarized copies of the Motion to Modify Child Custody or Visitation form to the county court that created the original custody order. The clerk will file one copy, you retain one copy and you must serve the other copy to the child’s other parent. Send it by certified mail or deliver it in person, but she or he must receive it at least 10 days before the scheduled court hearing.

Attending the hearing

If the child’s other parent does not agree to the custody change, you must present evidence that shows a change would be in your child’s best interest. This can include witness testimony; proof of employment documents; copies of emails and text messages between you and the child’s other parent; and correspondence from your child’s teacher, counselor or pediatrician. The other parent will also have the opportunity to present evidence against a change in custody.

After the hearing, the judge will state his or her decision. You will receive a written order within about a week if the judge agrees to the custody change. Otherwise, your original custody order remains legally binding.

If you are currently facing a divorce and have children, avoid agreeing to a custody order that does not work for you. The modification process can be challenging, and many judges prefer to maintain the status quo.