substantial change in circumstances

Substantial change in circumstances in North Carolina child custody and child support – In North Carolina, in order to modify child support or to modify child custody, a party must make a motion to the court alleging a substantial change in circumstances that affect the welfare of the minor child. What does that mean? In this blog we hope to explain it.

This is intended for informational purposes only and would be a poor substitute for the advice and counsel of a family law attorney.  If you are in need of a consultation or more information, contact us today.

Substantial changes

Substantial changes in circumstances are significant life changes that occur after the original or previously-modified child custody or child support order was issued. Below we have given specific examples of what MAY constitute a substantial change in circumstances. A judge may look to one or more factors and the specifics of your particular case in determining if the “substantial change” burden is met.

Further, the substantial change must affect the welfare of the minor child and a custody modification, must be in the best interest of the child.

Timeframe of the substantial change in circumstance

Relevant behavior or circumstances must take place AFTER the date that the prior custody order was granted. You cannot bring up old behavior or circumstances in an attempt to relitigate the custody or support order, whether or not you brought those issues up previously. Only new circumstances are relevant.

Substantial change in circumstances with regard to child custody modifications

  • Change in living situation
  • New child
  • Development of or recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction
  • Mom/Dad/member of household has become abusive or neglectful of the children
  • Child developed a serious illness or behavioral problem
  • Mom/Dad has gone to prison

Substantial change in circumstances with regard to child support modifications

  • Loss of job
  • New job
  • Raise or salary reduction
  • Change in childcare or health insurance
  • Change in child custody
  • Child has an illness that was previously unknown
  • New child

What would not be considered a substantial change in circumstances

  • Mom/Dad got a new girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Mom/Dad partied too much (not while supervising child)
  • Mom/Dad got a new pet
  • Mom/Dad started engaging in new religious practices
  • Mom/Dad developed a new parenting style

Contempt Versus Modification of Custody

Sometimes, the appropriate action is actually a contempt action. A contempt action may be appropriate is the party is refusing to follow the child custody or child support order. For considerations before you file a contempt action (including what contempt is NOT), click here.

If you have specific questions involving child custody, child support, or another family law issue, you should speak to a family law attorney. Contact Gilles Law to set up a consultation with an attorney.