Dear Carolyn,

I am enraged as a father with the child custody trial I just finished. The mother and I agreed to custody 50-50 at the time of our divorce, and a consent order of custody was completed. The mother and I always fight over almost everything concerning the three children, and the court had already called the case “high conflict” and assigned us a parenting coordinator. Then, I didn’t get along with the parenting coordinator. So we got a new parenting coordinator after I tuned her into the Bar. The Bar did nothing. Then the mother filed a motion for a change of circumstances, and that is the trial that just finished. My time with the children was reduced dramatically. What can I do?


Carolyn Answers,

The first thing to do is to calm down and get rid of your anger. That anger will not help you or your children in this situation. See an anger management therapist.

The good news is that you can appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Raleigh within 30 days of the entry of the custody order. The appeal means that three Court of Appeals judges will review your case and determine if the trial judge handled the case correctly. You ask this question at an opportune time, as the case of Durbin just came down from the Court of Appeals.

The Durbins live in Wake County, North Carolina, and the child custody trial was held in Raleigh on a motion for change of circumstances – very similar to your situation. The Durbins had a 50-50 arrangement, and the trial judge substantially reduced the father’s time. The father appealed and won in the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The appellate judges voted, and Mr. Durbin had two of the judges vote with him. The other judge wrote a dissent. Key to the father’s victory was the severe conflict between the parents, which was not a change in circumstances – these Durbins had fought the whole time since separation. However, the dissent will allow the appeal to go for further review by the North Carolina Supreme Court. So, we will all need to stay tuned to see if the Durbin case has further decisions. There are a lot of other nuances in Durbin, but this column should give you a starting point and hope.


Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”  “Ask Carolyn…” will be a regular column, but not necessarily weekly.