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Modifications And Relocations

Modification Of Child Custody

If a custody order already exists in your case, in order to modify the terms you will need to show there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the last custody order. Changes can be made by agreement of the parties and we can assist in honing and drafting the terms. If you oppose the modification, we can assist you in analyzing and presenting your defense of a claim. If you seek a modification, we can help analyze whether you have a viable claim for modification, discuss your goals and what terms you may reasonably obtain, and gather and present evidence at a trial to support your claim.

Once you have established that a substantial change of circumstances affecting your child exists, the court applies the best interest of the child standard.

If the existing custody order is from a state other than North Carolina, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act apply, and the order must be registered here before it can be modified. Certain factors must be met in order for an out of state custody order to be registered here.


In most circumstances, it is best to address the issue of a move prior to moving with the child, particularly if you desire to move out of state. If there is no pending litigation or custody order in place and you move out of state with the child, an emergency order may be entered requiring you to return the child if the court finds you have evaded the jurisdiction of the State of North Carolina. If a court order for custody is in place, a temporary restraining order may be issued by the court preventing the move of the child or preventing a change in school or some other circumstance until a return hearing is held.

When a party seeks to relocate such that the child will not have regular access to both parents, the reasons for the relocation and the effect of the move on a child become paramount factors for consideration. If this is an initial custody case, the standard applied by the court is the best interest standard. If you seek to modify an existing custody order, you must first show there is a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child before the best interest standard is applied.

With all of that being said, a move is possible in certain cases. Each case is unique and the reasons for the move, the effect on the child, the child’s needs and relationship with both parties and extended family and community, economic circumstances, services available for a special needs child, extraordinary circumstances, lifestyle of the parties, distance between homes, and many other factors can all play a part to shape a court’s decision regarding custody. Whether you desire to relocate or need to defend against an action to relocate a child, Vitale Family Law can assist you in attempts to reach a resolution and, if resolution fails, in gathering and presenting evidence at trial.

Request an initial consultation and discuss your modifications or relocations with a North Carolina family law attorney. Call 919-841-5680 or send an email message to our law offices in Raleigh.

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