Charlotte Attorneys Handling Modification of Court Orders
Modifying child support, child custody and spousal support orders in North Carolina
Even after your divorce is finalized, some time down the road your or your ex-spouse’s circumstances may change. Although your actual divorce and your property and asset division are set in stone, other parts of your court orders are not. When life events result in big changes, they may warrant modifications to accommodate those changes. A knowledgeable attorney can help you properly navigate these modifications.
Often, ex-spouses attempt to work out an informal agreement when they want to change the terms of their arrangement. This is, frankly, a dangerous idea. Unless any sort of support or custody agreement is done through the courts, you have no legal recourse in the event of a dispute. It’s imperative that any kind of modification is officially recognized by the North Carolina court.
The Charlotte family law attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC offer experienced and skilled guidance when you’re seeking post-divorce modifications to court-ordered child custody, support and alimony agreements.
What is a post-divorce modification?
Typically, when you and your ex-spouse sign your divorce decree, it’s meant to be as permanent as possible. Both of you are required by law to commit to the terms of the agreement and abide by it, or face serious consequences. However, the court also understands that life can change for all of us, and sometimes those life changes can make it difficult to carry out the original terms of the agreement.
Court orders of any kind are legally binding, so you cannot change the terms on your own. This is true even if you and your ex had an amicable split and mutually agreed to the terms of your agreement. Making an informal modification won’t hold up in court if there’s ever a disagreement down the road.
Here in North Carolina, a family law attorney can work with the court to modify the terms of your original divorce agreement. Once the court approves the modifications, you and your ex-spouse can then follow the post-judgment modifications.
When can I request a modification of a court order in Charlotte?
In the vast majority of cases, a judge will only grant an order modification if there has been a “substantial and material change in circumstances.” There’s no formal or set definition of what exactly a substantial and material change is – this is left up to the discretion of the judge. Typically, however, courts find the following types of changes satisfactory to complete that requirement:
- Losing a job or income
- Significant change in income
- Cohabitating with a new spouse
- Sudden illness or disability
- Parental relocation
- Increased cost of living
- Dramatic change in lifestyle
- Abuse or neglect
- Parent’s substance abuse
- Safety of the child
What constitutes whether or not a change in circumstances is significant will likely depend on the type of court order you’re seeking to modify.
Who is permitted to file a modification of a court order?
Either ex-spouse or parent can request a modification of a support order. You may make a request if your own life circumstances have changed, or you may make a request if you learn that the other person’s life circumstances have changed. Following are a few examples.
- You, Parent A, have been paying spousal and child support to your ex, Parent B. You suddenly lose your job and are no longer able to pay the original amount without financial hardship. With this type of life change, you’re eligible to ask to the court to modify your support, and the court will take your loss of employment into account.
- On the other hand, you might find out that Parent B’s circumstances have changed. Perhaps they have changed jobs and are making a bigger salary. If this is a significant change in income, you may ask the court to increase the amount of spousal and child support you receive from Parent B.
These are just financial examples, but feel free to speak to our family law attorneys about your particular situation.
How does the court make a decision about a modification of a court order?
If you and your ex-spouse need to modify a spousal support agreement or another court order that doesn’t involve children, the court makes its decision based on the best interests on the two adults involved.
However – and this can’t be stated enough – when a modification of court order involves anything regarding child support or custody, the court bases its decision only on the welfare of the child. First, the court will examine the change in circumstances and how this change affects the general well being and best interests of the child.
Generally, the courts will modify a court order if current circumstances are adversely affecting the child’s stability, emotional and physical health, or education.
How can a Charlotte family law attorney help?
Although you can file a request of modification of a court order on your own, the process can be complicated and emotionally exhausting – especially when you’re opening a chapter in your life that you long ago closed. A modification of orders lawyer can make the process easier, by consulting with you about your current situation and working with you to draft a new agreement that makes more sense and benefits your child.
Skilled and experienced Charlotte child custody and support modification lawyers
If you need to modify the terms of your divorce, child custody or child support order, the attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can help. We can work with you to help ensure a successful filing, illustrating how circumstances have changed and the effect on your child and life. We advocate for your family. You’ll find our offices right off Exit 57 from I-485. To reserve a consultation at one of our offices in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.