A brown gavel - Lusby Law P.A.Fighting over child custody is probably the last thing you want to be doing during what is already such a difficult time in your life. This article aims to make things easier for you by equipping you with the knowledge necessary to help you on your journey. Read on to discover:

  • At what point a child can voice input into a child custody case.
  • The legal consequences of withholding a child from their other parent.
  • What circumstances justify changing child custody orders.

At What Age Do Judges Listen To Children In North Carolina?

In North Carolina, there isn’t a statutory requirement setting a specific age at which a judge will listen to a child. However, the typical standard in most cases involves certain considerations.

Judges generally will not talk to a child who is under seven years old. For children between the ages of seven and 14, the judge will assess various factors when determining if they will listen to a child. This may include evaluating the child’s level of responsibility, academic performance, and an overall description by loved ones regarding the child’s maturity level.

Between the ages of 11 and 14, it becomes more likely for a judge to consider talking to a child. This is especially true if the issues involved are directly related to the child’s experiences or if something has happened to the child.

While there is some flexibility based on the specific circumstances of the case and the maturity of the child, the above tends to be the norm.

Can One Parent Keep A Child From The Other Parent Without Court Orders In North Carolina?

Until a court order has been established in North Carolina, there is technically nothing unlawful about one parent withholding custody or visitation from another. However, this action may be — and likely will be — used against the parent who is withholding custody during legal proceedings. While there may not be a legal liability before a court order is in place, it is generally not advisable since these actions may impact the court’s decision-making process.

Once the case goes to court, the parent withholding custody may need to provide substantial reasons for their actions. It is usually in the best interest of both parents to work towards a court-approved custody arrangement to avoid potential legal complications.

Can I Change A Permanent Custody Order In North Carolina?

North Carolinians can request a change to permanent custody orders. To do so, all that needs to be done is file a motion to modify custody with the court. However, for the court to consider such a modification, you must demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that directly affects the well-being of the minor child.

Not all significant changes meet this criterion; the change must be substantial and have a clear impact on the child’s daily life or overall well-being. If the court determines that the change is significant enough to warrant a modification, it may alter the existing custody order to better suit the child’s best interests.

What Is Considered A Substantial Change In Circumstances In North Carolina As It Relates To Child Custody Modifications?

In North Carolina, a substantial change in circumstances that could warrant a child custody modification may include:

  • Death or Absence of a Parent: If a parent passes away or becomes substantially absent from the child’s life.
  • Relocation: A significant move of more than 45 miles, especially if it results in a change of school district. However, if the school districts remain similar, it might not be considered a substantial change.
  • Fitness of a Parent: Changes in a parent’s fitness, such as developing mental health issues, substance abuse problems, or other factors that affect their ability to care for the child.
  • Child’s Health Issues: If the child develops a health issue that wasn’t known before and it significantly impacts their well-being.

Certain substantial changes may not be automatically considered substantial changes by the court, such as having another child or a parent who does not follow the court order. Enforcement of the existing order may be pursued in such cases, but it might not lead to a modification unless there is a significant impact on the child’s well-being. Each case is unique, and the court will evaluate the circumstances to determine if they meet the criteria for a modification.

What Must A Party Seeking To Modify A Custody Order Show In North Carolina To Have A Custody Order Modified?

If you’re seeking to modify a custody order in North Carolina, you must demonstrate the following:

Substantial Change in Circumstances

You must present enough factual evidence to convince the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the existing custody order. This change must be of such significance that it affects the well-being of the minor child.

Impact on the Well-Being of the Child

You will need to illustrate how the identified substantial change directly impacts the child’s day-to-day life, overall well-being, or best interests.

Essentially, you must establish a compelling case within the legal framework, showing the court that there has been a substantial change that warrants reconsideration of the existing custody order. If this foundational requirement is not met, the court may not proceed to evaluate whether a modification is appropriate.

How Do I Modify A Custody Order In North Carolina?

Modifying a custody order in North Carolina typically involves the following steps:

File a Motion to Modify

The first step is to file a formal legal motion with the court. This motion should specifically request a modification of the existing custody order. Within the motion, you need to provide detailed and specific information that clearly outlines the substantial change in circumstances that justifies the requested modification.

This may include changes in living arrangements, parental fitness, the child’s well-being, or other relevant factors. The court will review these allegations to determine whether they meet the legal standard for a substantial change.

Propose Modifications

Specify the modifications you are seeking in the custody order. This could involve changes in custody arrangements, visitation schedules, or other related aspects. Clearly articulate how these proposed modifications address the identified substantial change and serve the best interests of the child.

Court Review and Hearing

Once the motion is filed, the court will review the allegations and may schedule a hearing. During the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence, witnesses, and arguments to support their positions. The court will make a determination based on the presented information.

Court Decision

After considering the evidence and legal arguments, the court will decide whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances and whether modification of the custody order is warranted. If the court determines that a modification is appropriate, it will issue a new custody order reflecting the changes.

What Is A Contempt Motion For Child Custody In North Carolina?

In North Carolina, a contempt motion for child custody is a legal action taken when one of the parties involved is not following a court order to the extent that it frustrates the purpose of the order. To initiate a contempt motion, the party seeking enforcement would file a motion with the court, requesting that the other party be held in contempt and be required to show cause.

The court would then issue a notice or order to the non-compliant party, compelling them to appear in court and provide a valid reason for not adhering to the court order. If the court finds that the party is indeed in contempt, they may face consequences such as fines or, in extreme cases, imprisonment until they comply with the court order. Contempt motions are a means of enforcing court orders and ensuring that the terms of custody arrangements are followed by all parties involved.

For more information on Child Custody Issues In An NC Divorce Case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (252) 371-0127 today.

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