We know that your children mean everything to you — they are your life. When you are going through a divorce, you either need to reach a consensus as to how you and the other parent will divide time and responsibilities or persuade a judge to rule in your favor.
The child custody process in North Carolina can be one of the most difficult parts of the divorce. A Hendersonville divorce lawyer at Davis Curry Law is an experienced counselor and advocate who is here for you every step of the way during the child custody process, both during the divorce and in the future. We take the time to learn your needs and what is important to you.
Begin by scheduling a consultation with Davis Curry Law online or by phone.
Child Custody Policies and Presumptions in North Carolina
Many people enter the child custody process with preconceived notions about which parent may have the upper hand. There is no specific preference for either parent in the custody process. North Carolina has done away with the legal doctrine that gave the mother an advantage in custody cases when the children were under the age of four.
The judge does not have any specific guidance from a statute that gives them a starting point in your case. In fact, North Carolina courts want both parents involved in the children’s lives. The parents can and should share:
- The rights and responsibilities of raising the children
- Time with the children
North Carolina law states a number of other preferences and policies that include:
- The parents working together for the good of the children.
- Good faith, and child-centered parenting agreements
- Parents treating parenthood as a significant and ongoing responsibility
- The ongoing presence and participation of both parents in the children’s lives
Each case is considered on its own merits. Much depends on the specific judge in your case and their own preferences. North Carolina courts must consider the best interests of the children when reaching custody decisions. The law does not give a specific definition to the term, nor does it dictate what factors into the judge’s decisions. The judge will consider what they believe relevant, making your arguments to the court even more critical.
North Carolina courts aim to avoid needless litigation between the parents. Litigation can be hostile, and it can disturb the children’s well-being. Thus, the state tries to encourage parenting agreements that limit the potential for bitter conflict and promote the children’s best interests.
North Carolina Parenting Plans
The parenting agreement is the basis for the child custody arrangement in North Carolina. The parenting plan would address:
- Which parent will have primary physical custody of the children (North Carolina does not recognize joint custody)
- The visitation arrangements that allow the parent with secondary custody time with the child
- How the children are to be raised
- The roles and responsibilities of each of the parents and how decisions will be made affecting the children
The hope is that the parents will agree to the plan on their own after negotiation. The parenting agreement is a key part of the divorce proceedings. North Carolina law requires that the parents attend mediation to help them reach an agreement if they are in litigation. If the parents still cannot settle the case, the court would then decide custody and any other areas of disagreement between the parents after a hearing.
You should always seek an attorney’s help when negotiating a parenting agreement. Your attorney can help devise solutions to pressing issues, where you may otherwise not have consensus. There may be things that you overlook on your own, and it can be difficult to modify a parenting agreement later. It is understandable that the emotions and the heat of the moment could take away from your focus on the future.
In addition, your attorney can handle the negotiation process with the other parent’s attorney. Parents could allow emotion into negotiation, especially because they each want what they think is best for their children. A lawyer could help you move closer to an agreement through their negotiation skills.
Custody Issues that Arise During and After a North Carolina Divorce
There are many reasons why parents may disagree during the custody process. For whatever reason, parents could end up in court or come close to it. Some common custody issues involving children include:
- One parent believes that the other parent may not provide a stable or safe environment
- The parents may each want a certain schedule for time with the children that conflicts with each other
- One parent may wish to move a long distance from the other parent, therefore making it difficult for both parents to spend time with the children
- There are differences in opinion over how the children are to be educated, such as one parent may want private school, while the other prefers public school
- The parents disagree over a fundamental matter involving the children, such as religion or other values
- One parent believes that the other parent is alienating the children, trying to turn them against a parent
It is important to remember that custody issues are completely independent of child support and other financial matters. The court cares about the best interests of the children as it relates to the specific individual issue.
You should also bear in mind that custody issues are usually best resolved through negotiation. This is not to say that you should never litigate a case. There are times when you are at a complete impasse, or you believe that your child’s well-being is at stake. Your attorney would review your situation and help you devise a strategy for moving forward.
Contact a Hendersonville Child Custody Lawyer Today
Davis Curry Law in Hendersonville works with parents on custody issues. When your child is involved, there is no such thing as routine. We understand how much your children mean to you, and we commit to handling your case in a responsive and compassionate way. At the same time, we can be tough litigators and advocates on your behalf.
You can schedule a free initial consultation by messaging us online or calling us today at 828-900-2420.