- You might have questions about whether you need a child custody order and what the difference is between legal custody and physical custody.
- What if you need to modify an existing custody order?
- What happens when you and the other parent live in different states or counties in North Carolina?
- Are you a grandparent or concerned third party? Do you want to know what rights you may have for custody or visitation?
These are all common questions or concerns that we can help you with.
When Parents Don’t Agree
In North Carolina, both parents have equal rights to the custody of their minor children unless there is a court order that states otherwise and, in most cases, both parents want to stay involved with their children as much as possible.
Unfortunately, parents don’t always agree on important issues such as where the children will live or how to make important decisions for them. It is important in these situations for parents to have a child custody order that clarifies each parent’s rights and responsibilities to ease the effect on the children involved.
If you find yourself in a situation where you and your ex-spouse are having trouble agreeing on sharing custody of your children, it is important to consult an attorney.
What is a Child Custody Order?
A Child Custody Order determines, among other things, where the child or children will live, who can make decisions regarding the child or children, where the child or children will spend holidays, and what the visitation schedule will be.
Getting a Child Custody Order is a legal process that you shouldn’t enter without an attorney. It’s understandable that you might feel that you can’t afford an attorney or that having an attorney will make matters worse between you and your ex-spouse. However, you may lose rights that you should have as a parent because you don’t know how to navigate the legal system.
A custody order is based on the best interests of the child. This is a broad standard and almost anything about a minor child can and should be considered by the judge.
Some examples include:
- Physical health and medical information, including whether a child is current on immunizations
- Educational success or issues
- Spiritual and religious involvement
- Home environment
- Activities of the child
- Parental involvement
- Domestic violence affecting the child
- Mental health of the parents
- A parent’s drug or alcohol dependence
- Bad acts of either parent affecting the child
A custody order includes a decision on legal custody and physical custody.
What is Legal Custody?
Legal custody defines which parent has decision-making responsibility and rights regarding major decisions. North Carolina law presumes that both parents have the right to make decisions about the minor child or children, but a judge can decide otherwise based on the best interests of the child.
What is Physical Custody?
Physical custody refers to which parent the child or children will live with and the schedule for visiting with the other parent. Every child custody order must include the facts that the judge used in determining both legal and physical custody.
How do I modify a Child Custody Order?
The courts retain the right to enter child custody orders until the children reach the age of 18. This means that child custody orders may need to be modified as circumstances affecting the children change.
It’s important to contact an attorney during the initial child custody case and as circumstances change over time that may require additional court involvement. Protect your right to remain an active parent in your children’s lives and contact us today.
What if I live in a different location than the other parent?
When parents live in different states, or even different counties in North Carolina, the distance can add to the already complex issues of determining a custody order. North Carolina follows a set of rules and procedures similar or identical to the other 49 states that establish which state’s courts will hear the matter now and in the future.
It is especially important to consult an attorney to discuss in which state’s court your child custody case should be handled.
Visitation Rights for Grandparents
To seek visitation or the ability to have a guaranteed right to see the child or children, there must be a custody order or ongoing custody case first. This is because grandparents cannot request visitation if the family is intact or there is not a dispute among the parents regarding custody.
Even if the grandparent has the ability to ask for visitation, the grandparent still must prove that the visitation is in the best interests of the minor child or children.
Please consult an attorney to help you obtain legal custody or visitation with your grandchild, nephew, niece or other loved one.