How do I file for child custody in North Carolina?
If you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement on custody issues, you can file a lawsuit seeking child custody or visitation rights. Once a lawsuit has been filed, North Carolina requires both parties to attend mandatory child custody mediation sessions. After an orientation session, you and the other parent will meet with a neutral mediator in an attempt to resolve your issues and reach a parenting agreement. If you are successful, the mediator will draft a legal agreement that becomes an order of court once it is signed by the parents and the judge.
What if the other parent and I agree on child custody issues?
Agreements regarding child custody should be formalized to avoid disputes in the future. Our firm can address child custody issues as part of a separation agreement and property settlement or help you obtain a court order, or as a parenting agreement for unmarried parents. A court order is typically easier to enforce — and more difficult to modify — than a contract for custody. However, it is typically more expensive to obtain a court order than a contractual agreement.
How does the court decide which parent gets custody?
The court is required to look at what is in the best interest of the child/children. The court may consider many factors when determining what is in the best interest of the child, but there is no preference toward the mother or father. You should consult with an attorney to discuss issues related to child custody.
Is it possible to share custody of my child/children?
Every case is different, and you should discuss the particulars of your case with an attorney.
What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?
Physical custody means that your child/children primarily live at your residence, while legal custody gives a parent the right to make medical, educational and religious decisions regarding the child/children. It is not uncommon for parents to share joint legal custody.
How often can I expect to visit my child?
Visitation schedules vary widely depending on a number of different circumstances. A schedule might include one night a week for dinner visitation, every other weekend from Friday evening through Sunday evening, alternating holidays and two to four weeks of summer vacation. In another case, a schedule may have the parents alternating weekly periods with the child/children. Every case is different and a schedule that is in the best interests of the children in one family may not be in the best interests of the children in another family.
Can I terminate the parental rights of the other parent?
There are certain instances where the rights of a parent may be terminated. However, you must typically provide evidence of substantial neglect or abandonment, and the court must determine that termination is in the child’s best interest. Once a parent’s rights are terminated, any future child support obligation of that parent is also terminated.