Helping Parents With Custody Matters in Charlotte, NC
Reaching a child custody agreement can be complicated for both the adults and children involved. With the right legal team, you can reach a win-win agreement and potentially change your relationship with your spouse for the better.
Let our Charlotte child custody lawyers at Blood Law, PLLC support you through your child custody case. We have the skill and experience you want on your side.
Why Choose Blood Law, PLLC?
Expertise in Child Custody Law
When you work with our team at Blood Law, PLLC, you can benefit from our expertise in the area of North Carolina child custody law. Our child custody lawyers are familiar with all relevant laws and regulations, as well as the court procedures that must be followed to ensure a favorable outcome.
We will also be able to provide advice on how best to proceed with your case and can represent you in court if necessary.
Our child custody attorneys in Charlotte are also skilled negotiators, which is crucial when it comes to determining a fair agreement for both parties involved.
A good lawyer will be able to negotiate on your behalf and ensure that you get the best possible outcome from the situation. This can include negotiating visitation rights, parenting plans, and more.
Advocates for Your Best Interests
When you work with our firm, we will advocate for your best interests every step of the way. We will work with you to create a parenting plan that is in the best interest of both you and your children, ensuring that all parties involved are treated fairly.
Facing a custody issue in North Carolina? Contact our child custody lawyers in Charlotte at (704) 286-0570 today.
When Does a Child Custody Issue Come Up?
Child custody cases arise in different situations, such as:
- As part of a divorce case where both parents share biological child(ren)
- As part of a case where legal paternity of the child needs to be established
- When one parent wants to modify an existing child custody order
There is a lot at stake with child custody cases, as the outcome can impact your future relationship with your child(ren). North Carolina has specific laws on how to divide custody between parents who do not live together. Once a child custody order is issued by the courts, it is critical to comply with the arrangement.
Parents have the option to agree on a custody arrangement together without legal assistance; however, if they cannot agree, the court will decide on a custody arrangement for them.
Physical vs. Legal Custody
This refers to the time each parent gets to physically spend with their child and how the child will divide his/her time between the two parents’ homes. This also refers to the actual location where the child will live, not counting the visitation days at the non-custodial parent's home.
In custody proceedings, a judge will never rule based on gender alone. If paternity is rightfully established, both the mother and father have equal opportunities for physical custody.
The other aspect of custody sets out each parent’s right to make important decisions for their child. These include decisions regarding healthcare, religion, education, and more.
Sole vs. Joint Custody
There are also different ways to divide custody, including joint custody or sole custody. In most situations, parents will share joint physical custody of their children. One parent might have primary custody while the other has secondary custody, although they both get to spend time with their child.
Should I Pursue Sole Custody?
It is rare for one parent to relinquish custody rights voluntarily. This means that if you decide to pursue sole custody, your case will likely go before the court for the judge to rule on the custody issue.
Generally speaking, the law presumes that maintaining healthy relationships with both parents is in the best interests of a child. This is why courts tend to award joint custody. However, there are many factors a judge will consider, and there are certain situations in which seeking sole custody might be the right decision.
Joint custody puts the child at risk of harm:
- In some cases, one parent might have engaged in domestic violence or child abuse, and you might believe that time alone with that parent might result in emotional or physical harm to your child. This is a common situation in which sole custody is awarded. In fact, if you have a protective order against the other parent due to domestic abuse, the order might prohibit contact between the parent and the child for a certain period of time, making joint custody impossible.
The other parent is an unfit caregiver:
- Some parents might not be trusted to properly care for a child due to mental illness, substance abuse issues, or other similar factors. If a parent has a history of neglecting a child or otherwise being unfit to provide proper care for the child, they might be denied custody rights. In extreme situations, the parent might have their parental rights terminated, especially if there is no sign that their circumstances and abilities to parent will change in the future.
The parents live far away:
- Having a child regularly travel long distances for shared custody can be detrimental to the child. If the other parent decides to move far away, the court might award you sole custody and decide on a visitation schedule for the other parent, such as for a few weeks in the summer.
How Custody Is Determined In North Carolina
North Carolina law requires that all custody determinations be based on what the court finds to be in the best interests of the child.
Many states have a presumption that shared custody is in the best interests of the child, though this is not the case in North Carolina. Instead, the court will review each situation on a case-by-case basis to determine what type of custody arrangement is appropriate.
There are many factors that the court will examine to decide what is in the best interests of the child, such as:
- The child’s existing relationship with each parent.
- The child’s specific needs, including any special needs.
- The child’s attachment to the family home, community, other family members, and school.
- The child’s preferences - if they are old and mature enough to express them.
- Any disabilities of a parent that prevent them from caring for the child.
- If either parent has a history of abuse or substance abuse problems.
- Other reasons why a parent might put the child’s health or wellbeing at risk.
How to Determine if a Parent is Unfit
During child custody decisions, judges will often evaluate the fitness of a parent. The "fitness" of a parent basically means that they have the intent and ability to put the child's best interests first. They prioritize their children's well-being over their own.
If a judge suspects the child is endangered due to the actions of the parent, they may be deemed as unfit and have certain rights stripped such as visitation.
Several determinants that a judge looks for include:
- Has the parent shown a willingness to be part of the child's life and make important decisions for them?
- Has the parent had a history of mental health issues that prohibits them from carrying out their role as guardian and provider?
- Has the parent shown a history of alcohol or substance abuse?
- Has the parent been charged with domestic violence or have a history of abuse towards the child or mother?
What Is Emergency Custody?
Emergency custody may be necessary, and even crucial, in some family law cases. Under North Carolina law and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.5, a temporary custody order can only be entered if “the court finds that the child is exposed to a substantial risk of bodily injury or sexual abuse or that there is a substantial risk that the child may be abducted or removed from the State of North Carolina for the purpose of evading the jurisdiction of North Carolina courts.”
If the judge enters the custody order, then a hearing is held where the judge will evaluate determines that the conditions have been met, a temporary custody order will be in place until either party wants to pursue permanent custody. If you think that you may have grounds for emergency custody, contact one of our Charlotte child custody lawyers today.
What Is Visitation?
Visitation, also known as parenting time, refers to the right of a noncustodial parent to spend time with their child or children. It outlines the schedule and arrangements for the noncustodial parent's access to the child, and it is an essential aspect of child custody agreements. The specifics of visitation can vary based on the custody arrangement and the best interests of the child.
In North Carolina, as in many other jurisdictions, there are several common types of visitation arrangements:
- Scheduled Visitation: This is a structured visitation plan with specific dates and times for the noncustodial parent to spend time with the child. The schedule can be detailed, outlining weekends, holidays, and special occasions.
- Reasonable Visitation: With reasonable visitation, the parents have the flexibility to work out visitation arrangements among themselves. This type of arrangement is more open-ended and allows for a cooperative and flexible approach, as long as both parents can agree on the terms.
- Supervised Visitation: In cases where there are concerns about the safety or well-being of the child, the court may order supervised visitation. During supervised visits, a third-party supervisor, often a professional or a trusted family member, is present to monitor the interaction between the noncustodial parent and the child.
- No Contact Visitation: In extreme cases, the court may order no contact visitation if there are significant safety or welfare concerns. This means that the noncustodial parent is not allowed to have any contact with the child.
- Virtual Visitation: With advancements in technology, virtual visitation has become more common. It allows the noncustodial parent to interact with the child through video calls, phone calls, or other electronic means, particularly if physical visitation is not feasible.
- Neutral Pickup and Drop-off Locations: In situations where there may be conflict between the parents, the court may order that the exchange of the child for visitation occurs at a neutral and public location to minimize potential disputes.
Modifying a Child Custody Order
If you have an existing child custody order that you need to change, you can request a modification. If both parents agree on the modifications, they can present them to the court to obtain a new order.
However, if one parent challenges the modification, the court will rule on whether the modifications are in the best interest of the child and if there was a substantial change in circumstance to warrant the modification.
Common examples of significant changes in circumstances that may warrant a modification of child custody include:
- Relocation: If one parent plans to move a significant distance, especially if it affects the current visitation schedule or the child's ability to maintain a relationship with both parents.
- Substantial Changes in Health: If there are health-related issues affecting either parent that significantly impact their ability to care for the child.
- Changes in Employment or Financial Status: Drastic changes in employment, income, or financial stability that may affect the ability to provide a stable and suitable environment for the child.
- Issues of Substance Abuse: Evidence of substance abuse problems by either parent, which can jeopardize the safety and well-being of the child.
- Legal Issues or Criminal Activity: If there are new legal issues or criminal activities involving either parent that could impact the child's safety.
- Changes in the Child's Needs: If the child's needs have changed significantly, such as educational requirements, medical conditions, or developmental needs.
- Allegations of Abuse or Neglect: Substantiated allegations of abuse or neglect, whether towards the child or within the household.
- Parental Alienation: Instances where one parent is deliberately undermining the child's relationship with the other parent, leading to a negative impact on the child's well-being.
- Parental Cooperation: Ongoing issues with communication or cooperation between parents, hindering their ability to make joint decisions in the child's best interest.
- Child's Preference: In some cases, especially with older children, their expressed preference regarding custody arrangements may be considered.
Importance of Establishing Paternity
In North Carolina, an unmarried couple will have legal problems associated with custody and visitation if paternity is not established in an appropriate timeframe. As a father, you may miss out on rights to see your child if the state sees the mother as the sole custodian.
There are four general methods to establishing paternity:
- Both the father and mother are married prior to the child's birth
- The father and mother marry shortly after the birth of the child
- The parents sign what is called an Affidavit of Parentage which can be done at the hospital or birthing center
- One of the parents files a lawsuit to have paternity established. Usually, fathers will sue for the rights of custody and visitation, while mothers sue to obtain child support payments.
Can grandparents or other relatives seek custody of a child?
Yes, in North Carolina, grandparents or other relatives can seek custody of a child under certain circumstances. The court may grant custody to a grandparent or relative if it is determined to be in the child's best interests and if certain statutory requirements are met.
The court will consider factors such as the relationship between the child and the grandparent/relative, the child's needs, and the ability of the grandparent/relative to provide a stable and nurturing environment.
How does relocation affect child custody arrangements?
Relocation can have a significant impact on child custody arrangements in North Carolina. If a custodial parent wishes to relocate with a child, they must provide notice to the other parent and seek court approval or obtain consent from the noncustodial parent.
The court will evaluate the proposed relocation and consider factors such as the child's best interests, the reason for the relocation, the impact on the child's relationship with the noncustodial parent, and the feasibility of maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents.
Call Now to Discuss Your Options
At Blood Law, PLLC, our Charlotte child custody lawyers understand the importance of obtaining a custody order that puts your child’s interests first. We have the experience, skill, and patience to help you determine what choices are in the best interest of your child and your family.
"She cares about you as a friend, not just as a client. I highly recommend Anna Blood and her legal team as they are INCREDIBLE and a winning team of pros!"Debra K.
"Anna is an extremely trustworthy and understanding individual, which is very beneficial to any sticky family law situation you may find yourself dealing with. She is very attentive and focused on ..."Sean F.
"Anna and her team is such a joy to work with! Not only is she extremely talented, she is down to earth and understanding which is a really important quality when communicating with clients. She will ..."Jennifer W.
With offices in Charlotte, Waxhaw, Lake Norman & Fort Mill, we make it easier for families across North Carolina & South Carolina to find quality counsel.
Children Come FirstWith the complexities of family law, we put the well-being and safety of your children at the forefront of your case.
Team-Driven EnvironmentWhen you work with Blood Law, PLLC, you work with our entire team. Everyone is here to support you through each step.
Honest GuidanceWe create personalized plans for each client while setting realistic expectations on the possible outcomes of the case.
Anna Blood Founder and Managing Attorney
Olivia Lowery Senior Attorney
Allison Thomas Senior Attorney
Michael Mohun Associate Attorney
Rachael Beller Associate Attorney
Liz Whitaker Paralegal
Samantha Mishko Law Clerk
Savannah Langley Client Relations Coordinator
Susan Turner Client Account Manager
Helene Carras Executive Director
Tatum True Director of Communications
Jehan Al Rifaie Paralegal
Hailey Arico Legal Assistant/Intake Specialist
Casey Storch Paralegal