Raleigh Child Custody Attorneys
When you’re going through a divorce, some of the most challenging decisions can involve the custody of your children. Negotiating which parent gets to live with the child, how much the other should contribute to child support, and other related issues can be stressful. You need a Raleigh family law attorney to help.
At Marshall & Taylor PLLC, we understand the importance of meeting your children’s needs. They should be your primary concern while you’re moving forward with your divorce. You can depend on our dedicated legal team to help you and your spouse put aside your personal feelings and negotiate an agreement that is in the best interest of your children.
A variety of custody options are available, depending on the circumstances of your case. The number one concern is making this a smooth transition and maintaining a stable environment for your children. They shouldn’t suffer from the fallout of divorcing spouses. The custody plan you agree upon should minimize the children’s stress and put the adults on a successful co-parenting path.
The Raleigh child custody attorneys of Marshall & Taylor PLLC are available 24/7 to take your call and discuss what we can do for you. Do not hesitate to call us for a confidential consultation at 919-833-1040.
The Basics About Child Custody
Once two people decide to separate, child custody might immediately become a topic of contention. Since the parties will live in different homes, there’s a question of where their kids should live. Child custody is often best settled with voluntary agreements between both parents. Agreed upon arrangements can serve the best interests of the kids and create peace between the divorcing spouses.
Additionally, when you’re able to resolve this matter amicably between the parties instead of getting the court involved, everyone is much more likely to adhere to the plan and feel satisfied with the results.
If you’re unable to agree on custody issues, you might have to take your case to District Court and let a judge decide what’s best. They might consider these factors when determining who gets custody of the children:
- The age of each child
- Whether the child has special needs
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Current living arrangements and time spent with each parent
- Both parent’s relationships with their kids
- Any history of neglect or abuse
- Both party’s employment and financial situations
This list doesn’t include all contributing facts that a court might review during a hearing. Depending on your specific case, they might look into other information and details.
State laws don’t allow children to decide who they want to live with when they are minors. Someone over 18 years old can let the court know if they would rather live with one of their parents more than the other. The court would consider their wishes when awarding custodial rights. In some instances, the child could testify, but many judges prefer not to resort to that. The court will make the final determination after due consideration of all the facts.
Regardless of how you reach a decision, the outcome should include a written document outlining who your children will reside with, how each parent will share time with them, and how you’ll make significant decisions for them, such as education. Your plan should explicitly state every item you want to ensure is taken care of throughout your child’s life. Careful planning now can prevent a return to court in the future if there’s a dispute with your former spouse.
North Carolina Statute Regarding Child Custody
According to North Carolina Statute § 50-13.01, a child custody agreement should encourage:
- Both parties to fairly share responsibilities and rights with regard to raising their child, even after divorce.
- Good faith, focused, and child-centered parenting arrangements to mitigate the need for the court’s involvement in determining child custody and ensuring the child’s best interests are met.
- The divorced couple to establish and maintain a healthy relationship with each other if it is the children’s best interest and consider substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence, and other factors the court determines are appropriate.
- Each party is responsible for their child and expects that parenting will be an ongoing and significant responsibility.
- Practices and programs reflecting both parents’ contact with and participation in their kid’s life despite the couple’s current marital status and taking into consideration laws associated with neglect, abuse, and dependency.
The main takeaway from this statute is that North Carolina wants to ensure that each parent takes an active role in their children’s lives. However, state laws don’t automatically allow for both parents to have equal time with their kids. It depends on the circumstances of the case and what a judge rules if the courts must be involved.
Child Custody Statutes Don’t Include Custody Presumptions
North Carolina statutes provide general guidelines and policies but don’t include specific presumptions for how much each parent should be allowed to see their children. Previously, the “tender year’s doctrine” stated that the mother should be given custody of any minor child under four years old. However, North Carolina eliminated that presumption. Many divorcing couples assume that they can split the children’s time equally between the parents, but there isn’t a case law or statutory presumption indicating 50/50 time-sharing.
Judges don’t have a starting point to use when deciding who should get custody of the kids, but some judges might use their own presumptions as starting points. For example, some judges believe both parents deserve equal or close to equal custody as long as they are fit to parent their child. Others think that only one parent should have custody of their kid most of the time to foster stability but believe the other parent should be allowed visitation as frequently as possible.
This can make it challenging if you ever have to bring your case to court because you don’t know the judge’s starting point and what they will base their decisions on. That makes it crucial that you attempt to reach an agreement with your partner without the need for litigation.
Legal Standards for Child Custody
Since no presumptions exist in child custody cases, North Carolina § statute 50-13.2 lays out the legal standard for a court to determine arrangements with the parents. Once a judge has considered all the factors required by this statute, they will grant custody to the person who can best promote the child’s best interests and welfare. The statute specifies that no presumption exists and also says that if joint custody is requested, it shall be considered.
Types of Child Custody
Two main types of child custody arrangements exist in North Carolina: legal and physical. Legal custody means the awarded parent is allowed to make major decisions about their child’s life. Physical custody refers to the parent having their child in their care, whether it be part or full time. Physical and legal custody agreements could be held solely by one party or shared by both.
When determining who gets legal or physical custody, there’s also a decision about whether it’s joint or sole. If a parent has sole legal custody, they can make important life decisions for their child without discussing it with the other party. Joint legal custody involves each parent consulting with each other and coming to a decision together.
For example, a major life decision on the kid’s behalf might be whether they should undergo a medical procedure or which school they should attend. If you’re unable to agree on such decisions, the court might have to make them for you.
Sole physical custody gives one parent the right to reside with their child. However, the other parent is usually allowed visitation. If you have joint physical custody, your child can split time between both parties’ homes, although it does not necessarily have to be equal. In some cases, the minor kid might live with one of the parents most of the time and live with the other on the weekends.
Why You Should Hire Marshall & Taylor PLLC
We care about the well-being of our clients’ children and want to ensure an arrangement that works best for all parties involved. Our dedicated and compassionate Raleigh child custody attorneys will work closely with you to come up with the right child custody plan to fit your needs and the needs of your child.
Some of the issues we can help you negotiate include:
- Mitigating the risk of major changes or losses in your kid’s life, such as friends, school, sports, and other activities
- Deciding which parent should get your child on birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions
- Ensuring each parent continues to have an active role in your child’s life by scheduling visitation for the party without physical custody
- Ensuring you continue to meet your kid’s different needs throughout their life, such as nutritional, medical, developmental, and dietary
- Setting out household rules to be followed while with each parent, such as curfews, chores, screen time, and other activities
- Determining how to handle possible future conflicts
- Setting guidelines for introducing the kids to new partners
At the end of the day, everyone wants what’s best for their child. Marshall & Taylor PLLC will do our best to help you and your spouse amicably settle all child custody issues so that your case doesn’t have to go to court.
The Raleigh child custody attorneys of Marshall & Taylor PLLC are ready to discuss your case and guide you through the process of arranging custody. We know it can be overwhelming when you’re going through a divorce and must settle issues about your child. You can depend on us to remain by your side until the very end.
For an initial and confidential consultation to discuss your child custody matter, call Marshall & Taylor PLLC right now at 919-833-1040.