Child custody attorneys are needed not just to help the parents determine time with children, but also to help children receive the best outcome for their situation.
While going through the process of a divorce or separation, emotional pain and frustration are often present for all parties involved. However, the decision to divorce is only the first difficult step in the process. If there were children were born or adopted as a result of a union of two people, then child custody agreements will need to be worked out. In order to best serve the interests of the children, child custody must be planned in a way that is not only agreeable to both adult parties involved, but also in the best interests of the children. Only with the help of a qualified and experienced child custody attorney can both parties reach conclusions that will best serve the children.
With a child custody attorney on your side, you can ensure that your side of the story will be heard and represented. The divorce process can take a long time. The average time spent before the divorce is final is 3-4 months in North Carolina. However, even in the most amicable of situations, you can expect equitable distribution and child custody/support situations to take over a year. Because the child custody process is essentially providing guidelines for everything from visitation to after-school activities and a plethora of other little details, you need a child custody attorney you can trust and rely on.
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The Do’s and Don’ts of Child Custody
Child Custody and Visitation
In North Carolina, child custody means the right to have physical custody of your child and also the right to make legal or major life decisions for your child.
Visitation is a term used to describe a type of custody that refers to a person’s parenting time when it is relatively limited.
Legal custody is the right to make major life decisions about your child. For example, legal custody usually concerns matters regarding the health care choices for your child, the religious upbringing of your child, the school your child attends, etc. Physical custody refers to the right to have your child in your care typically on an overnight basis. Legal and physical custody can be determined by a court or agreed upon by the parents outside of court. Either type of custody can be equally divided by the parents or held entirely by one parent depending on the circumstances and facts of each case.
No one is required to have a custody agreement or custody order. Sometimes parents are able to co-parent their minor children without issue. This, unfortunately is not the norm, and most parents do need some type of formal agreement or court order setting out the details of their custody terms. There are many considerations, other than just child custody, that a custody agreement or custody order can alleviate. Therefore, having a formal custody agreement or order in place is recommended to avoid future problems and potential litigation.
Failing to pay child support should not affect your custody rights. One parent is not allowed to withhold a child because the other parent did not pay child support. The courts do not tolerate this type of behavior. Unlawfully or even unfairly withholding a child or snatching a child from the other parent is, in most cases, deemed harmful to the wellbeing of the child and not in his or her best interest.
Emergency custody: In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, a parent can file for emergency custody in very limited situations. According to the Mecklenburg County Local Rules, these situations include when there is a substantial risk of bodily injury or sexual abuse to the minor child, or when there is a substantial risk that one parent is attempting to remove a minor child from the State of North Carolina in order to evade jurisdiction.
Temporary Parenting Arrangement: In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, a parent can file for a Temporary Parenting Arrangement (TPA) only in rare situations which do not rise to the level of an emergency, but do significantly affect the well-being of the child. According to the Mecklenburg County Local Rules, these situations include relocation; repeated “snatching” of children between parents; one parent claiming the other parent is denying access to the child or is severely and unreasonably limiting access; or substance abuse or mental health issues which pose some risk for the children.
Best Interest of the Child Standard: The courts will determine custody based on the best interests of the child standard. The factors that are considered by the court in making a determination of the child’s best interest include each parent’s living situation, ability to care for the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any other factors that affect the child’s welfare. A parent’s wrongdoings as a spouse will only affect custody if the wrongdoing impacted the welfare of the child.
Temporary and Permanent Custody Orders: A temporary custody order will be in effect on a short-term basis until a hearing is held modifying the temporary order or until a permanent order is entered. Temporary custody orders can also become permanent by the passage of time. Temporary custody orders are enforceable through the contempt powers of the court, but are easier to modify than permanent orders. Modification of a permanent custody order requires a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the child.
Out-of-State Custody Orders: In general, as long as at least one parent continues to live in the other state, that state will retain jurisdiction of the custody matter. If, however, both parents and the minor children have left the other state, North Carolina courts can take over the case. In order for this to occur, your out-of-state order must be registered in North Carolina.
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Here in Charlotte, North Carolina, there are many options for you to choose from when it comes to child custody attorneys. We hope you will carefully consider choosing our team at GPS Law Group to assist you.
At GPS Law Group, we offer legal services related to child custody to those in Charlotte, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville, Concord, Harrisburg, and Kannapolis, North Carolina.