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Child Custody

blocks with letters spelling out child custodyIf you are going through an uncontested divorce, you may not be having too many arguments about how to divide the property. However, good behavior can go out the window when discussing child custody. Agreeing on child custody arrangements can be highly contentious, even in an uncontested divorce. Having an experienced Raleigh uncontested divorce lawyer on your side can make a substantial difference in your child custody discussion.

Child custody deals with both physical custody and legal custody. When going through an uncontested divorce, you should create a formal agreement concerning child custody. It can be modified later if there are any changes to your family’s situation. If you don’t have a written agreement, it can lead to issues in the future.

If you are trying to agree on child custody during your uncontested divorce, contact our experienced Raleigh uncontested divorce lawyers. At Marshall & Taylor PLLC, we understand how emotional and overwhelming divorce can be, especially when you are trying to decide on custody and child support. Ensure that your rights to your children are protected. Contact us to discuss your legal options and to receive the representation and support you need during this emotional and complex time. Call us today at (919) 833-1040 or through our online contact form.

Types of Child Custody in Raleigh

When going through a divorce, you will need to reach an agreement with your future ex-spouse regarding child custody. When creating a custody arrangement, it is vital to understand that while a parent has rights regarding their child, that right is not absolute. Child custody is based on the child’s best interests, meaning a court would decide based on what is best for the child. Even if it is uncomfortable for the parents, it’s important to keep the child’s best interests at heart. There are several types of child custody, including:

  • Legal custody: This gives you the right to make decisions on your child’s behalf about such issues as education, religion, and medical care. For example, if you have sole legal custody, you can decide whether your child can go on an international trip with their sports team. Legal custody does not necessarily mean that you will have physical custody.
  • Physical custody: You have the right to have your child or children in your physical care. Physical custody will determine where the child lives for all or part of the time.
  • Sole custody: Someone with sole custody typically has full physical and legal custody. In sole custody situations, the other parent can have visitation rights.
  • Visitation: When one parent has sole custody, the parent without custody rights can get visitation, meaning they can still visit and spend time with their kids (sometimes with restrictions).

How Child Custody Is Determined in North Carolina

When a family court decides on child custody issues in North Carolina, its first goal is to do what is in the child’s best interest. The court will review all relevant factors to determine what is in the child’s best interest, including:

  • Stability of each parent
  • Living situations of the child and each parent
  • Child’s relationship with each parent
  • Safety of the child around each parent and anyone they may be living with
  • Incidents of domestic violence, abuse, and drug or alcohol abuse by either parent
  • Parents’ time commitments
  • Parent’s ability to take care of the child

In addition to the above factors, a court may consider the child’s wishes. However, the court will only consider the child’s wishes after considering the child’s age, maturity, and judgment. For example, a court is unlikely to consider a child’s wishes when determining child custody if they want to live with the parent that lets them play video games and stay up later.

Child Custody Without Court Involvement

In North Carolina, you can reach mutual agreements concerning child custody. However, the court must review any child custody issue and approve it. You can accomplish this through a “friendly lawsuit.” A judge holds a short hearing to review the custody agreement, approve it, and enter a consent order.

When determining your custody arrangement, you should consider the factors the court will look at to ensure it is in the child’s best interest.

Until you reach an agreement on child custody or the court issues a custody ruling, it is a general rule that parents will have joint physical and legal custody of their child.

Can Mediation Be Used to Determine Child Custody

When going through an uncontested divorce, you may go through mediation to reach an agreement considering your child custody arrangement. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution facilitated by a neutral third party, the mediator. The mediator helps the parties by guiding the conversation, bringing to light the weaknesses and strengths of each side’s case, and suggesting potential resolutions.

Modifying Child Custody and Child Support

mother hugging he young daughterA parent can bring a claim for child custody until the child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old. North Carolina courts retain jurisdiction over minor children for custody and support purposes. As a result, if there are changes in circumstances, you can petition for a change in your custody arrangement.

If you can again reach a mutual agreement for modification, you can enter a private agreement and have it approved by the court. If you cannot reach a mutual agreement, the court will review the facts of the case and enter a child custody order depending on the current circumstances.

When modifying child custody agreements, you need an experienced attorney who can help you understand the change’s impact and ensure they protect your rights during the modification.

Contact a Child Custody Attorney for Help

If you are going through an uncontested divorce and need to make custody arrangements, the attorneys at Marshall & Taylor PLLC are ready to help. Our experienced uncontested divorce attorneys want you to reach a child custody agreement with minimal court involvement, saving you time and money. Contact our skilled and knowledgeable family law attorneys today to discuss your legal options and begin working towards a child custody agreement. You can reach us at (919) 833-1040 or through our online form.