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Child custody is often complex. It is the legal determination, either by
agreement of the parents or by order of the court, for where and how minor
children will be raised. Parents often state that determining child custody
is the most stressful part of family separation.
Here at Miller Bowles Cushing, our team of Charlotte child custody attorneys
knows what can be asked when child custody is decided. We want to listen
to your situation and assist you in deciding the best course of action
for a successful outcome in the best interests of you and your child.
Make sure you have an experienced attorney backing you during child custody
proceedings. Call (704) 810-1400 today for a private consultation.
Legal & Physical Custody
In a North Carolina child custody case, we generally refer to two different
types of child custody:
Legal Child Custody – Legal child custody is the decision-making power of each parent to decide
long-term issues for a child such as where the child goes to school, what
doctors they see and what medical treatment they may receive, what religion
they will be taught, and any other matters of lasting significance.
Physical Child Custody – Physical child custody is just what it sounds like–where the child
is physically located each night. Most child custody arrangements are
considered joint custody, even if one parent has substantially more time
with a child than the other. Several years ago, the North Carolina court
began referring to most custody arrangements as “joint custody”
and instead identifying a “primary” custodial parent and a
“secondary” custodial parent.
How Does the Court Decide Child Custody?
Just as your child is unique, each case is unique. The Court will look
at all factors to decide what is in the best interests of the children.
To that end, almost any topic can be relevant to determine child custody,
All information about both parents and their homes
Work schedules and availibilty to care for children
The historical caregiving by each parent
Both parents and the child's medical issues
Any other issue the Court believes is necessary to best promote the interests
and welfare of the child
If the parties are not able to reach a settlement, the issue of child custody
will be heard by one of our Family Court Judges, who will determine and
decide child custody.
Emergency Child Custody
In certain cases, parents may seek an expedited determination of child
custody. When there is a substantial risk of bodily harm or sexual abuse
to a child or substantial risk a child will be abducted or removed from
North Carolina to evade the Court’s jurisdiction, a parent may seek
emergency child custody. Emergency child custody is awarded only in rare
situations in which there is concrete danger to the child.
Where there is not an emergency but an expedited child custody decision
is warranted, parents may seek a temporary parenting arrangement hearing.
In situations of parental relocation, repeated “snatching”
of a child, or drug or alcohol abuse issues by a parent, the Court may
conduct a brief hearing to enter a temporary child custody order.
When Can I Modify Child Custody?
Under North Carolina law, the Court has jurisdiction over all minor children
until they reach age 18. Because the Court must act in the “best
interests” of the minor child, the Court always has the ability
to modify child custody. Often, custody orders are labeled “permanent”,
but the Court never loses the power to change that order as long as your
child is still a minor.
To modify child custody, the Court must find there has been a substantial
change in circumstances affecting the minor child since the entry of the
prior court order. Some examples of a substantial change are changes in
a parent’s work schedule or living arrangement, interference by
one parent with the visitation schedule, or changes in your child’s
educational or medical needs.
What Rights Does a Father Have in North Carolina?
A father and mother start off with equal rights to child custody in North
Carolina. If neither parent is deemed “unfit” for custody,
then the courts will not automatically favor one parent over the other
due to gender. Rather, the court will consider all the circumstances in
each case and determine custody based on the best interests of the child.
If the father and mother are not married, then the father’s paternity
will need to be established. This can be done through an Affidavit of
Parentage form that both parents sign, or legal action can be taken to
establish paternity with genetic testing.
If you're looking for more help on a future or impending child custody
case, feel free to contact our Charlotte child custody lawyers today at
Over 50 Years of Collective Experience Handling Family Law Cases
Devoted to Providing the Highest-Quality Legal Representation to Our Clients
Proud to Provide Top-Notch Legal Service From NC Board Certified Specialists in Family Law
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