When you are a parent, your relationship with your child is one of the most important aspects of your life. If you are going through a divorce, certain adjustments have to be made, but you still have a right to maintain your loving relationship and exercise your parental authority for the good of your child. At the Carolina Law Group, our family law and divorce attorneys assert your parental rights and take affirmative steps to safeguard your child’s welfare. In many cases we are able to create a manageable parenting plan through negotiations or mediation, saving you time, stress and expense. But when the other parent is unreasonable, we can litigate the issue aggressively and skillfully to obtain a favorable result.
Although most child custody disputes arise during or after a divorce, an unmarried father can assert rights to custody or visitation after establishing paternity. There are two types of child custody under North Carolina law:
Each type of custody can be awarded three ways:
In deciding child custody issues, the family law court considers the totality of the facts to determine what arrangement would be in the best interests of the child, so decisions allow for various combinations, based on the children’s needs. For example, sole physical custody with joint legal custody might be appropriate if it serves the children’s best interests to live exclusively in the home where they have been raised. Joint physical custody with primary legal custody might be appropriate if the parents have conflicting notions of how to raise their children and the court wishes to give one parent the final word on certain issues. Under most circumstances, the custody arrangement does impact the award of child support.
If one parent receives sole physical custody, the court generally awards the other parent visitation. The noncustodial parent is allowed frequent, meaningful visits with the child, and it is the duty of the custodial parent to have the child ready for visits. Interference with visitation can be grounds to modify the parenting plan and award joint custody.
However, if there is a question of a parent’s fitness, the court investigates to determine whether continuing contact with that parent would not be in the child’s best interests. The court can order supervised visits, where a court-appointed person would observe the interactions between parent and child. The court can put appropriate restrictions on visitation and can even deny visitation if necessary to protect the child.
Even the best laid plans for child custody require occasional adjustment. Because your children grow and your life circumstances change, you should expect to revisit your parenting plan every three years under the best of circumstances. Generally, it’s possible to amend your custody arrangement through negotiation or mediation and present the new plan to the judge for approval. However, there are times when litigating child custody may be necessary.
Two types of conflicts that frequently arise are:
Our attorneys provide the same assertive representation in post-divorce custody disputes to secure the best outcome possible under the facts of your case.
Your loving relationship with your child depends on a fair resolution to your child custody case. The experienced attorneys at the Carolina Law Group in New Bern, Havelock, and Morehead City skillfully assert your rights to obtain favorable outcomes. Call us at 252-672-2059 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with an accomplished family lawyer.