Guiding You Through Child Custody Proceedings in North Carolina
Perhaps the most contested area of family law and divorce involves child custody. This is an area where you almost certainly need to retain the services of a skilled family law attorney. When a marriage or relationship breaks down, it can be an emotional time for both the parents and the children. So, it is important to exercise special care when dealing with this issue. Dummit Fradin family law attorneys are empathetic to this reality.
When parents separate, they must still make decisions regarding their children. If the parents are not able to resolve the custody or financial support of their children, a judge will make this decision for them after hearing what their family law attorneys have to say. Generally, it is important for parents to pick their family law attorney with care.
In most North Carolina counties, after filing for child custody, the parties are required to attend child custody mediation, with mediators provided by the state. When parents are unable to reach an agreement in mediation, the legal system authorizes a district court judge to decide who should have custody, how much visitation the non-custodial parent will have and how much child support the non-custodial parent will be obligated to pay. North Carolina law directs the courts to protect children until they reach the age of majority (usually age 18).
Generally speaking, the parents should prioritize the child’s welfare and interests and attempt to reach an agreement rather than going to litigation over custody. However, in many cases parents are incapable of reaching an agreement and a judge must make the decision. Clearly, a child custody attorney is important in these cases.
Different Kinds of Child Custody in North Carolina
Custody is broken into two parts – “legal” custody and “physical” custody. Be sure to ask your child custody lawyer to explain this in detail. Legal custody includes the decision-making power over the minor child. This includes making major medical, education and religious decisions for the child. The courts tend to grant joint legal custody to parents, to give equal decision-making power to both parents and to encourage co-parenting, if feasible.
Physical custody involves which parent is exercising physical care, custody, and control of the minor child. If your goal is to get physical custody, please express this to your child custody attorney. Except in extraordinary circumstances, it is both healthy and desirable for the child to have regular contact with both parents.
Joint custody means that both parents are fit and proper to exercise physical custody of the child, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the parents will have equal amounts of time with the child. They may share equal custody or one may be the primary custodian while the other parent is granted visitation. Visitation can be in two forms, “reasonable visitation” or “structured visitation.” If a non-custodial parent is granted reasonable visitation, visitation will not be detailed but rather subject to the agreement between the parents. It provides more flexibility, but also requires a working, amicable relationship between the parents.
Structured visitation involves a schedule for child visitation. Visitation may be structured in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, every other weekend, alternating holidays or several weeks during the summer. Joint custody can be very beneficial for the minor child, especially when parents are able to work together for the best interests of the child. Your child custody lawyer will help you articulate what is in the best interest of your child.
How Child Custody Is Determined by Courts
Judges do not favor one parent over the other, but consider factors including, but not limited to:
- Significance of past history of physical assaults
- Exposing the child to sexually explicit printed or pictorial materials
- Illegal drug use by either party
- Exposure of the child to sexually explicit TV programs or movies
- Negative comments by one parent about the other parent in the presence of the child
- Parents cooperation in allowing physical access to the child for visitation
- Significance of a parent resisting the involvement of the other parent in the parenting of the children
- Parents cooperation in allowing telephone access to child
- Parent involving a child in the custody process (i.e. reviewing the custody complaint or discussing other parts of the legal process with the child)
- Parent making comments in the presence of the child
- Having expert testimony on psychiatric disorders of the parents
- Criminal record of either parent
- Past history of a parent’s involvement in school/education
- Significance of a parent voluntarily providing support or failing to voluntarily provide support
- Having expert testimony on personality disorders of the parent
- Methods of discipline used
- Significance of either parent having an overnight companion while having responsibility for a child
- Having a forensic custody evaluation available
- Testimony from other adults who are active in caring for the child, such as grandparents, step-parents, girlfriend or boyfriend
- Employment record of either parent
Until there is a custody order in place, both parents have equal rights regarding their child. It is important to be proactive with regard to child custody, especially if the parent’s relationship is contentious, so as to prevent as much disruption to the minor child’s life as possible. Talk to a child custody lawyer today. When a judge is forced to make a custody determination, it is already clear that the parents are incapable of working together to resolve the matters concerning their child. During a child custody trial, the judge considers certain facts and issues to determine what is in the children’s welfare and best interests. You want a child custody attorney on your side.
Dummit Fradin: We Make a Difference
Schedule a consultation with a Dummit Fradin child custody attorney today. Our attorneys will listen to what you have to say and advise you on the best course of action. Experienced attorneys deal with these matters every day. Don’t leave the most important thing in your life to chance. Retain the services of a caring and skilled child custody attorney.
Visit One of
Our Office Locations
Your needs are our top priority. No matter what the case entails, we look forward to meeting and working with you to get through this matter as efficiently and effectively as possible. Stop by one of our locations today in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, or High Point, NC. We currently service the following counties: Forsyth County, Guilford County, Surry County, Stokes County, Yadkin County, Davie County, Davidson County, Randolph County, and Alamance County.