How to Modify Child Custody in North Carolina

by Kimberly Turtenwald

A court order such as one determining child custody is intended to last. In some cases, however, it can no longer be feasibly followed. Whether your circumstances have changed or the order you have is currently not working for some other reason, you can modify a child custody order in North Carolina. For your modification request to be considered, you must prove that there has been a sufficient change in circumstances or there is legitimate concern over the well-being of the children involved.

Print the custody modification packet from the North Carolina court website ( or obtain the required forms from your local courthouse. To find this packet on the website, select "Union" from the county list on the left side of the page. Click "Pro Se Packets" on the left side of the page. Find the "Instruction for completing the Modification of Custody/Visitation packet" link and click on it to open the packet. While this is located under Union County, it can be used anywhere in North Carolina.

Fill out the Motion for Modification of Custody or Visitation Order, Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet and Notice of Motion to Modify Custody/Visitation forms. These forms are found at the end of the packet. You must include information, including the names and addresses of both parties, date in which the current order went into effect, reason for your change request, proposed changes and the names and birth dates of the affected children.

Sign the Motion for Modification in front of a notary public so the document is notarized. Check with your local bank, post office or library. These locations typically have a notary public on staff. If they do not, they should be able to help you find one. A notarized document is a legal document that is admissible in court.

Make two additional copies of each form and create three different packets of forms: one of the originals and two with copies.

File the documents with your local North Carolina Civil Filing Department.

Wait to receive your hearing date in the mail after you have filed.

Serve a copy of the documents, including the date, time and location of the hearing, to your child's other parent. You may do so through first class mail in North Carolina. Notification must be made at least 13 days prior to the hearing date.

Complete the Affidavit of Service form, also located in your packet, to prove to the court that you have served the documents to your child's other parent.

Attend the hearing. Bring the proof you have of a change in circumstances or proof that the current order should no longer be valid. Sufficient changes in circumstances include a move out of the immediate area or a lifestyle change by either party.

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