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Raleigh Lawyers for Physical Custody in Separation Agreements

A frequent issue when couples separate is the custody of any children they share. Because custody can be a complicated legal and emotional issue, you need a lawyer to help you manage the complexities of child custody when you’re separating. The Raleigh separation lawyers of Marshall & Taylor PLLC are experienced in handling separation cases and custody issues in Raleigh and surrounding areas. With our compassionate lawyers on your team, you will have help navigating the murky waters of child custody. When you have questions, you can feel confident in turning to the experienced attorneys of Marshall & Taylor PLLC. Contact us today at (919) 833-1040 to learn how we can help you manage physical custody issues during a separation.

What Is Physical Custody?

According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch, the term “child custody” can be used to refer both to the right to make major life decisions about a child and the right to have that child in your care. Physical custody is the right to have the child in your physical care. “Physical care” means that the child is living with you.

How Is Physical Custody Different from Legal Custody?

parent with physical custody of childAs opposed to physical custody, legal custody is the right to make major decisions about the child and their future. Like physical custody, legal custody can be shared by both parents, but the court can also give it to only one parent. Legal and physical custody are separate from each other. Parents can share legal custody, while only one parent has physical custody, and the reverse can also be true. A custody agreement must specify which parent or parents get legal custody and which parent or parents get physical custody. An experienced child custody attorney from Marshall & Taylor PLLC can help. Our attorneys can seek to negotiate a custody agreement with your child’s other parent and request that the court grant the most appropriate custody division in a custody order.

Types of Physical Custody

You could have either sole or joint physical custody. If you have sole physical custody, then your child lives with you and does not split their time between the households of both parents. In such a case, the other parent may still get the opportunity to have regularly scheduled visits with the child.

With joint physical custody, the child lives with both parents and splits their time between households. Joint physical custody can be achieved in many different ways, depending on the situation and the best interests of the child or children. Joint physical custody could be an equal split of time between the parental households, where the child moves from home to home on a regular schedule. Alternatively, the child could spend a specific portion of the year at one parent’s home and the rest of the year at the other parent’s home. Each situation is different, and the child’s needs must be everyone’s primary consideration.

What Is Visitation?

Under the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, the parent with primary custody has the child for more than 122 nights each year. The secondary parent has the child for 122 nights or fewer each year. This is usually visitation rather than joint custody.

A child does not live with a parent who was granted visitation. Instead, visitation gives a parent the right to visit with the child at specific times outlined in the custody agreement or custody order. Sometimes, specific conditions must be met for the visitation to occur, such as meeting in a particular location or the supervision of a third party.

What Is a Custody Order?

judge ordering custody of a childA custody order is the document that results when a North Carolina court issues an order outlining how custody, both legal and physical, should be divided between the parents. A custody order is not required. Instead, the parents agree on what’s best for their children. North Carolina Statute § 50- 13.01 encourages cooperative parenting agreements where practical. Even if both former partners agree, however, a child custody lawyer can help you formalize your custody agreement so that both parents can be held to the agreement. If the parents cannot agree, the court can decide what it believes is best for your child. In such a case, your lawyer can advocate on your behalf for the custody and care arrangements you know would be in your child’s best interests.

Without a parenting agreement that has been formalized or a court-issued custody order, both legal parents have equal rights to the child. “Legal parents” are parents recognized on official documents like the child’s birth certificate, a court order, such as child support or adoption order, or an affidavit of parentage.

What Do I Do If I Have a Child Custody Emergency?

Unfortunately, sometimes a child custody emergency arises when a child is at risk. According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch, a child custody emergency includes situations where there is a risk of:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Removal from North Carolina to escape the court’s authority
  • Bodily injury

In these cases, you can request an immediate, short-term order of custody from the court. If such an order is granted, law enforcement can assist you in recovering your child. If the court grants you an emergency custody order, they will also schedule a hearing so both parties can be heard. The process of filing for emergency custody is complex, so it’s best to hire an attorney if you need an emergency custody order.

Contact a Raleigh Child Custody Lawyer

Whether you are just beginning the process of an amiable separation or are dealing with a custody emergency, the attorneys at Marshall & Taylor PLLC are here to help. We can assist you at any stage of the process and can help advocate for you as you walk through the child custody process.

While child custody issues are often complex and emotionally exhausting, having someone who is both compassionate and experienced can make all the difference. Call us today at (919) 833-1040 so that we can help you with any separation and child custody challenges you are facing.