When two parents divorce, separate, or otherwise end a relationship in which they share a child, the impact can be emotional, frustrating, and filled with contention. In these situations, Albemarle, NC parents must try to agree on the dynamics of raising a child in two different homes. This includes how to finance their everyday needs, making decisions related to school, health, and religion, as well as determining with whom the child will live and how often they will see the other parent. All these dynamics can be difficult for separating parents to figure out. Child custody is often one of the most contentious arguments that arise in these situations.
While North Carolina hopes that parents will reach an agreement independently of the courts, this is not always the case, and courts are often left to resolve these disputes. This can be a difficult and confusing process. However, with the right child custody attorney on your side, like the team at The Law Offices of Aimee E. Cain, you can navigate this process with the aid of our knowledge and experience. Whether you are in the beginning stages of establishing custody, entering into mediation, or wanting to modify an order, our team has years of experience putting our clients first and fighting for their rights and the rights of their children.
The term child custody refers to the set of duties and rights that parents share in raising a child. The specific elements include the welfare of the child and decisions about healthcare, religion, and education. Custody is broken into both physical and legal custody. Physical custody is with whom the child lives, and legal custody determines who has the decision-making power for the child’s life. They are not always awarded to the same parent.
In terms of physical custody, one parent will often be awarded custody of the child, with the other parent being granted visitation rights. Parents may be awarded sole or joint custody, depending on the circumstances of the case.
The hope is that parents will reach a custody agreement together without the help of the court. However, even if two parents reach an agreement, it must be approved by the court and is not legally binding until adjudicated.
When parents accept the responsibility of reaching an agreement with one another, this is a healthy step toward keeping the child’s life stable, as the process allows parents to understand how to co-parent with each other. An agreement should allow for an equitable opportunity for both parents to remain an important and meaningful part of the child’s life. A parenting agreement should not only address the current family dynamics but also attempt to predict future needs that the family may experience. The specifics of a parenting agreement are up to the parents to decide. However, if it’s very generalized, then there could be additional complications if one or both parents feel that the agreement is no longer acceptable.
What can begin as amicable conversations that are solution-focused can quickly turn into contentious arguments, leaving both parents at an impasse. A child custody attorney can help you keep the conversations moving in a productive direction or help when the negotiations break down.
If the process of reaching an agreement ends, then the court will get involved, which will include litigation that requires evidence and proof to gain custody of your child. An attorney can help ensure that you have the right information to present to a judge, which could increase your chances of gaining custody of your child. This could include ordering a custody evaluation or simply outlining how you can provide a stable and consistent home life that will help the child through this difficult time.
Factors that a court will consider include:
When deciding which parent the child will live with, North Carolina does not allow the decision to be made based on gender, age, religious affiliation, or any other personal characteristic of the parent.
Each case is unique, and therefore the costs associated with it will vary depending on the circumstances. However, these types of cases can often be expensive, depending on how involved attorneys and courts need to be. Generally, a permanent custody case will cost between $5,000 and $25,000. The complexities of your case will help determine where in that range your costs will fall.
While most parents will attempt to work together to settle matters of child custody without the need for court intervention, these negotiations can often break down or come to an impasse. An attorney can help throughout the negotiation process and, if things break down, can help prepare you for litigating in court by helping you gather and present evidence to gain custody.
Unlike criminal court, an attorney is not automatically appointed to represent you. In some cases, a judge can award your legal fees to the other parent if you are unable to pay or cannot afford them. However, Legal Aid of North Carolina is an organization that may be able to help those who may need it.
Coming to an agreement with the other parent can be difficult, and they likely will not grant you full custody of your child. However, by presenting evidence to a court that proves you can provide a financially stable home, are of sound mind and body, and have a healthy relationship with your child, you can increase your chances of being awarded custody of your child.
No matter what part of the child custody process you face, the help of an experienced and skilled attorney can ensure that your parental rights are protected. Whether you are negotiating with the other parent, you need to modify a standing agreement, or the other parent is challenging a current agreement, you should have the legal representation that you and your child deserve to ensure that your child’s interests are met. At The Law Offices of Aimee E. Cain, we know your child didn’t ask for this process to happen, so we help you move quickly and strategically so you can focus on being a family again. Contact our offices today.