CHILD CUSTODY & VISITATION

The child custody laws in North Carolina pertain to the care of children who have not yet obtained the age of 18, or suffer from medical or emotional challenges. Much of the fear and uncertainty for parents embroiled in a separation, divorce or other breakup revolves around the welfare and custody of their children. In almost every case, these emotions stem from not only a parent’s desire to do what is best for their children, but also from an equivalent desire to maintain the full benefit of their relationships while dividing family schedules with another parent.

What is legal custody and physical custody? 

The North Carolina laws governing child custody, define legal terms like legal custody, physical custody and visitation. 

  • Legal custody of a child authorizes a parent, or parents, to make major decisions for the benefit of a child that has a lasting impact. These decisions include medical, education and religious decisions. Legal custody can be shared between parents or the authority can be given solely to one parent.
  • Physical custody is the actual schedule of care for the child. Physical custody can be granted primarily to one parent who will have a child the majority of the time, or jointly to both parties. In addition, secondary custody is also a term used and can mean any sharing schedule, less than primary placement, and is often interchangeable with “visitation”. In some cases, visitation can be limited to a few hours for each period, and can be required to be supervised by approved third parties. 

How should custody be resolved? 

In North Carolina, parents involved in divorce proceedings are given many opportunities to find creative solutions through mediation and negotiated settlement before a trial for custody takes place. In North Carolina upon initiation of a lawsuit for custody, parents are required to attend a mediation session prior to having a hearing on custody. At this mediation session, if an agreement is reached a parenting agreement is prepared that memorializes the terms of custody.  

Statistics clearly show creative agreements help separating parents have longer lasting outcomes and a higher rate of success than those imposed by a court ruling. At GHMA | LAW,  we have found that issues surrounding custody of children are the most emotionally sensitive, and the most highly combatted of all the issues in family law. When possible we always recommend that parents cooperate with one another to create a custodial arrangement customized for them and the children.  

What if no agreement can be reached? 

Some cases are so complex that parents are not able to resolve issues surrounding custody and visitation for their children. Significant issues often narrow parents’ abilities to agree on custody matters including the changes that come with the breakup of a relationship: relocation, change in work hours, lifestyle choices that differ from those practiced during a relationship, and significant personalities that appear in one or both spouses’ lives following separation. 

When a trial of a custody dispute is necessary, judges have broad discretion over custody awards. A judge can award legal custody, physical custody or visitation rights, and can set permanence or length of time for his ruling. The best interest of your children from the court’s perspective will be the foundation of any custody ruling. In considering the best interests of the child, fundamental concerns that are factored into a judge’s decisions might include: 

  • significant family circumstances and history, like domestic violence, anger management issues, substance abuse issues and/or mental health,
  • Age and needs of the children, 
  • Schedule of the children and parents, 
  • Ability of the parents to care for the children,
  • The environment of each parent’s household, and
  • Any other factor that the child finds relevant. 

Child Custody Articles

CHILD CUSTODY

Children grow, and their needs change over time. Due to this ever changing environment, child custody agreements or orders can be modified if a change in circumstances has occurred that affects the children. Being able to change the terms of custody allows parents to ensure that the best interests of the children is always at the heart of any custody arrangement. 

Avoiding trial on custody issues through the use of tools like mediation is the most efficient and least costly course of action. When this solution-oriented and efficient approach to resolving family disputes through negotiated settlement is unsuccessful, the family law attorneys at GHMA | LAW are primarily trial lawyers.

As with all the issues involved in a separation and divorce, creative resolutions through mediation provide parents an opportunity to create agreements that may be of greater benefit to their children and the function of the family than statutory guidelines may permit. Patrick McCroskey and Janet Amburgey are both board-certified specialists in family law and have years of experience in child custody matters. Contact them to help protect your parental rights and guide you to finding the right solution for your children at 828-258-3368.  

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CHILD CUSTODY & VISITATION

The child custody laws in North Carolina pertain to the care of children who have not yet obtained the age of 18, or suffer from medical or emotional challenges. Much of the fear and uncertainty for parents embroiled in a separation, divorce or other breakup revolves around the welfare and custody of their children. In almost every case, these emotions stem from not only a parent’s desire to do what is best for their children, but also from an equivalent desire to maintain the full benefit of their relationships while dividing family schedules with another parent.

What is legal custody and physical custody? 

The North Carolina laws governing child custody, define legal terms like legal custody, physical custody and visitation. 

  • Legal custody of a child authorizes a parent, or parents, to make major decisions for the benefit of a child that has a lasting impact. These decisions include medical, education and religious decisions. Legal custody can be shared between parents or the authority can be given solely to one parent.
  • Physical custody is the actual schedule of care for the child. Physical custody can be granted primarily to one parent who will have a child the majority of the time, or jointly to both parties. In addition, secondary custody is also a term used and can mean any sharing schedule, less than primary placement, and is often interchangeable with “visitation”. In some cases, visitation can be limited to a few hours for each period, and can be required to be supervised by approved third parties. 

How should custody be resolved? 

In North Carolina, parents involved in divorce proceedings are given many opportunities to find creative solutions through mediation and negotiated settlement before a trial for custody takes place. In North Carolina upon initiation of a lawsuit for custody, parents are required to attend a mediation session prior to having a hearing on custody. At this mediation session, if an agreement is reached a parenting agreement is prepared that memorializes the terms of custody.  

Statistics clearly show creative agreements help separating parents have longer lasting outcomes and a higher rate of success than those imposed by a court ruling. At GHMA | LAW,  we have found that issues surrounding custody of children are the most emotionally sensitive, and the most highly combatted of all the issues in family law. When possible we always recommend that parents cooperate with one another to create a custodial arrangement customized for them and the children.  

What if no agreement can be reached? 

Some cases are so complex that parents are not able to resolve issues surrounding custody and visitation for their children. Significant issues often narrow parents’ abilities to agree on custody matters including the changes that come with the breakup of a relationship: relocation, change in work hours, lifestyle choices that differ from those practiced during a relationship, and significant personalities that appear in one or both spouses’ lives following separation. 

When a trial of a custody dispute is necessary, judges have broad discretion over custody awards. A judge can award legal custody, physical custody or visitation rights, and can set permanence or length of time for his ruling. The best interest of your children from the court’s perspective will be the foundation of any custody ruling. In considering the best interests of the child, fundamental concerns that are factored into a judge’s decisions might include: 

  • significant family circumstances and history, like domestic violence, anger management issues, substance abuse issues and/or mental health,
  • Age and needs of the children, 
  • Schedule of the children and parents, 
  • Ability of the parents to care for the children,
  • The environment of each parent’s household, and
  • Any other factor that the child finds relevant. 

Children grow, and their needs change over time. Due to this ever changing environment, child custody agreements or orders can be modified if a change in circumstances has occurred that affects the children. Being able to change the terms of custody allows parents to ensure that the best interests of the children is always at the heart of any custody arrangement. 

Avoiding trial on custody issues through the use of tools like mediation is the most efficient and least costly course of action. When this solution-oriented and efficient approach to resolving family disputes through negotiated settlement is unsuccessful, the family law attorneys at GHMA | LAW are primarily trial lawyers.

As with all the issues involved in a separation and divorce, creative resolutions through mediation provide parents an opportunity to create agreements that may be of greater benefit to their children and the function of the family than statutory guidelines may permit. Patrick McCroskey and Janet Amburgey are both board-certified specialists in family law and have years of experience in child custody matters. Contact them to help protect your parental rights and guide you to finding the right solution for your children at 828-258-3368.  

Child Custody Articles

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Common Questions & Concerns

We will do everything possible to structure your case so that you may obtain the best legal result. Punishing your spouse or winning an all-out, no holds-barred victory, however, is an unrealistic and unattainable goal. Your attorney's job is to represent your best interests, and to achieve the best resolution for you. His job is not to serve as your avenger. He cannot give you retribution for the sins of your spouse. If you enter this process expecting revenge and retribution, you will be sorely disappointed and unhappy with your attorney, yourself, and the outcome of your case, no matter how favorable that outcome may be to you. Before beginning the attorney-client relationship, you should make every effort to put your priorities in order, and realize that there are some things the legal system cannot provide.

Most people share the same fears, questions, and beliefs about divorce. The following are some of the most common of these fears, questions and beliefs.

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