Determining who gets custody of your children during a divorce can be the most stressful aspect of proceedings. You want what is best for your child, but your opinion may differ from your former spouse. When agreements over child custody can’t be reached, that is when the North Carolina court system must be involved.
“Custody laws are different in every state,” said Thomas D. Bumgardner, Ballantyne child custody lawyer. “Taking the time to learn North Carolina’s custody laws can help protect you and your child’s legal rights.”
This week’s blog discusses the basics of North Carolina child custody law.
What is the Determining Factor for Child Custody Cases?
First and foremost, North Carolina courts are concerned with making a decision that is in the best interest of the child. Several factors will be considered before making a custody decision:
- The safety of the child
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child
- Violent/domestic crimes in a parent’s record
A common misconception with these types of cases is that a mother has an advantage over the father. This is not true. Maternal or paternal roles hold no weight in custody cases in North Carolina. Each party may present testimony from teachers, counselors, other family members and any other relevant figures in the child’s life in order to reinforce their case.
A judge will consider the aforementioned factors when making a decision on the custody of the child.
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
Child custody cases are separated into two categories, physical custody and legal custody. The distinction between these classifications is extremely important to recognize:
Sole Physical Custody – When a child is placed in the sole physical custody of one parent, it means that they will be living with them permanently.
Sole Legal Custody – When a child is placed under sole legal custody of one parent, it means that parent will be making all of the decisions regarding the child’s upbringing: education, medical care, religion, etc.
Joint Physical Custody – Parents will share time spent with the child. This helps a child maintain a relationship with both parents. This works best when both parents live relatively near each other. If one parent lives far away, e-visitation via online programs such as Skype may be granted.
Joint Legal Custody – Both parents help make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing. Before a decision is made, both parents must agree.
Can the Child Make the Decision?
In North Carolina, a child can testify or make a statement as to whom they would like to live with. There is no age restriction to give a statement, but the judge will determine if the child is mature enough to make this choice. The judge does not have to factor the child’s decision into their ruling. They will make a decision based off of what they think will benefit the child most.
How Does Visitation Work?
In many cases, primary and secondary custody will be given to the parents in order to avoid visitation. If a parent is given sole custody, the other parent may be granted unsupervised visitation rights. In cases where a parent has a history of domestic abuse, supervised visits may be ordered to protect the child. In extreme cases, all forms of visitation may be denied.
Have Questions? Consult With Your Ballantyne Child Custody Lawyer
Thomas D. Bumgardner focuses on settling custody disputes through mediation. Most disagreements can be solved without setting foot in a courtroom. If a case can’t be resolved and must be decided by a judge, Thomas Bumgardner is prepared to fight for your rights as a parent. As a Ballantyne child custody lawyer, he has years of experience practicing North Carolina custody cases. To schedule a free consultation please call (704) 887-4981.