How do I modify my custody order?

In this video, divorce attorney Lisa Angel discusses all of the necessary steps you’ll need to take in order to modify your child custody agreement.

Hi. I’m Lisa Angel. In this video, we will talk about the laws regarding modifying your child custody agreement to allow for relocation in North Carolina.

If you decide to move after you and the other parent have already finalized a child custody agreement, you will need to modify your agreement before you relocate. If you move before your agreement is modified and you cannot uphold your current child custody schedule, you will be in breach of the separation agreement.  Your ex could then file a breach of contract lawsuit against you for not following the terms.

There are some cases where you may be able to move without first modifying the court order. If your child custody agreement says that there is no restriction on moving and you can continue to uphold your child custody schedule without issue, you might be ok to go ahead and move. This is often the case for parents who move close enough for their children to keep attending the same school, or for parents who may only see their children for vacations or other infrequent periods. Regardless, however, it is better to amend the child custody agreement prior to moving in case it could cause any other family conflicts.

The process for modifying your child custody agreement is different depending on if you are modifying a court order or a separation agreement.

If you are modifying a court order, a parent must file a motion to modify the court order and a judge must allow the motion before a new custody arrangement can be made.

In a modification hearing because of a relocation, the judge will be looking for two things: (1) that a substantial change in circumstances affecting the wellbeing of the child has occurred, and (2) that changing the custody order will be in the best interests of the child.  If both of these cannot be proven, then the judge will not grant a motion to modify the court order.

Some acceptable reasons for child relocation include having access to more educational and cultural opportunities, starting a new job that will provide you with more time and finances for your children, and removing your children from an unsafe or dangerous environment.

If you are modifying a separation agreement, the parents must agree to the change and rewrite that portion of their separation agreement into a new contract or amendment. Some separation agreements include special modification provisions in the child custody section. Usually this includes a requirement that any changes to child custody must first be mediated.  If your separation agreement has this provision, then you’ll need to schedule a mediation date before you can attempt anything else.

If neither party can reach an agreement on changes to the child custody terms, then you will need to file a child custody action in court against the other parent.

For more information, take a look at other videos available on our website at You’ll find great resources to help you with your case.

Thank you for watching. I’m Lisa Angel with the Rosen Law Firm.

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