If you are a parent facing divorce, your children are one of your top concerns. Who will they live with? How will my ex-spouse and I make decisions about their education, healthcare, religious practices, and future? What if I think my ex-spouse is a bad parent? What if my ex-spouse thinks I’m a bad parent? These are just some of the questions that might be running on a loop in your mind.
Put your mind at ease and hire an experienced, compassionate child custody lawyer from Marshall & Taylor PLLC. Our team will guide you through the difficult decisions that parents must make when choosing to divorce, inform you of your rights, and advise you on your legal options. If you ask our Pittsboro clients, they will tell you we devote 100 percent of our resources to advocating for you and your children’s best interests.
Every family is different. Therefore, every child custody arrangement must be uniquely fashioned to meet the needs of the children and foster healthy relationships with the parents. Call the Pittsboro family law attorneys of Marshall & Taylor PLLC today at (919) 833-1040 for a confidential consultation about your child custody goals and challenges.
Why Hire a Child Custody Lawyer?
Divorce can bring out the worst in people. You hope that you and your ex-spouse can at least agree on what’s best for your children, but too often, the nastiness of divorce taints the child custody negotiations. An experienced child custody lawyer can help diffuse strong emotions and keep the focus on your children.
If you hire Marshall & Taylor PLLC, you will have a team of strong but empathetic lawyers who will counsel you through the difficult decision-making and negotiating process with your ex-spouse, advocate for your and your children’s rights and interests, and if need be, fight boldly for you in the courtroom. Whenever possible, we will try to reach a fair agreement with your ex-spouse without going to court, saving you both a great deal of time, money, anxiety, and heartache. However, if your ex-spouse will not agree to a reasonable arrangement or you have grave concerns about your children’s interests, we will absolutely take a stand in court on your behalf.
Prolonged and contentious child custody battles can take a toll on children. The attorneys of Marshall & Taylor PLLC know this, and we will do everything we can to shield your children from the rancor of the proceedings. Just like you, our highest priority will be protecting your children and your relationship with them.
Child Custody Law in North Carolina
For many years, North Carolina child custody laws reflected the “tender years” doctrine, as did many other states. This doctrine stated that when children are ages zero to four, it is in their best interest for primary physical custody to be given to their mother. However, in 1977, North Carolina amended its law to remove any presumption of favor for either the mother or father. Rather, North Carolina law now encourages parents to settle their child custody arrangements outside of court in a “focused, good faith, and child-centered” way that reduces needless litigation. North Carolina law also encourages each parent to:
- Take responsibility for their children
- Share equitably with one another the rights and responsibilities for their children
- Actively engage in the child’s life (assuming that is in the child’s best interest, taking into account mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc.)
- Establish and maintain a healthy relationship with one another
When an Agreement Cannot Be Reached
If, after mediation, parents cannot agree on child custody, a judge will decide the child custody arrangement that they deem to be in the child’s best interest. Judges have a great deal of discretion in North Carolina, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Judges are people with their own biases and preconceived notions. Some judges may personally believe that joint custody is usually the best arrangement for children, whereas other judges may lean towards granting primary custody to one parent. That is why Marshall & Taylor PLLC strives to settle child custody arrangements through negotiation whenever possible. Once it’s in front of the judge, it’s hard to predict what will happen.
The judge considers all relevant factors when determining child custody, including:
- Age of the child
- Needs of the child
- Each parent’s home, occupation, and ability to provide and care for the child
- Each parent’s past conduct, including any evidence of domestic violence, neglect, or abuse
- The child’s relationship with each parent and siblings, if there are any
- The child’s preference if they are of “sufficient age to exercise discretion”
Types of Child Custody in North Carolina
There are two types of child custody in North Carolina:
- Legal Custody – This refers to the decision-making authority for the child. This includes decisions related to healthcare, education, religion, and similarly important matters. In North Carolina, judges tend to award joint legal custody, meaning the parents must consult one another about major decisions involving their child. However, there are circumstances in which a judge may award sole legal custody to one parent.
- Physical Custody – This refers to where the child physically lives and spends their time. A judge can award sole or joint physical custody. When one parent has sole physical custody, the child lives with that parent primarily. The other parent has secondary custody of their child, or visitation rights. Joint custody arrangements can take many different forms. For example, the child may live the majority of the time with one parent but stay with the other parent frequently, perhaps every other weekend. Another joint custody arrangement could see the child alternating between the two parents’ homes on a regular basis for equivalent durations of time.
Call Marshall & Taylor PLLC Child Custody Attorneys Today
Divorce can be a very difficult time for parents and children. If you work with an experienced, compassionate attorney from Marshall & Taylor PLLC, you can rest assured that we will focus resolutely on protecting your and your children’s rights and interests. Our Pittsboro clients chose Marshall & Taylor PLLC because of the care, consideration, and expertise we bring to child custody issues. Call Marshall & Taylor PLLC today at (919) 833-1040 to speak with one of our child custody attorneys about your family’s needs.