As a parent, we know that you want the best for your child. Engaging in a custody battle with a co-parent can be nerve-wracking, particularly if you disagree with your co-parent on how to handle custody and the case could impact your relationship with your child in the foreseeable future.
At Blood Law, PLLC, our Lake Norman child custody lawyers will work closely with you throughout your custody battle to ensure your parental rights and your child's best interests remain protected.
To schedule a consultation with an experienced child custody lawyer near you, contact us online or via phone at (704) 387-6090.
Understanding Legal & Physical Custody in North Carolina
In any custody case, there are two types of custody:
- Physical custody dictates whether a parent has the right to house their child. Whichever parent has physical custody a majority of the time is generally referred to as the "custodial parent" in child custody disputes.
- Legal custody dictates whether a parent can make judgments that affect their child's rights, such as where they go to school, what kind of medical care they receive, what religions they are exposed to, etc.
Courts typically recognize two types of custody arrangements:
- Joint custody. In a joint custody arrangement, both parents have legal and (typically) physical custody.
- Sole custody. In a sole custody arrangement, one only parent may have legal or physical custody.
Generally, courts default to joint custody arrangements under the assumption that it's beneficial for a child to spend time with both parents regularly. However, if the court decides that one parent is unfit to care for a child, they may award the other parent with sole custody. A parent may be considered unfit if they engage in behavior such as domestic abuse or neglect, cannot offer the child a safe living arrangement, or consistently fail to act in a way that demonstrates they care for the child's best interests.
How much time a child spends living with either parent is governed by the visitation arrangement (also often called a parenting plan) established during the custody case.
What Should I Expect from My Custody Case?
In most custody disputes, parents have a few options when it comes to deciding how they want to distribute custody.
If the parents agree on terms for a custody arrangement, they can draft and sign a custody agreement (often with the help of attorneys) dictating those terms. This agreement includes details such as how the parents agree to act around the child, what parenting behaviors are acceptable, and how the child will share time between the parents during the school year, on summer break, across holidays, etc.
The judge presiding over the case will assess the agreement. If the court determines the agreement is equitable, it may finalize it, issuing a court order that incorporates the terms of the custody agreement and effectively signing it into law.
If the parents disagree on how to approach custody, they may need to take their case to court. They will attend a hearing, at which point each parent can present a proposed visitation arrangement to the court. After hearing from both parents (and the child, if they're old enough), the court will draft a custody order it considers fair for the parties and sign it, finalizing the custody arrangement.
Factors courts consider during custody cases include:
- The child's relationship with each parent;
- The child's preferences (if they're old and mature enough to give input);
- Each parent's history with the child;
- Each parent's financial status and ability to provide a safe living space for the child;
- The child's physical and mental health;
- The parents' physical and mental health;
- The child's educational, temperamental, and developmental needs;
- How a proposed custody arrangement may impact the child's personal life and development;
- How a proposed custody arrangement may impact each parent's relationship with the child;
- Any other factors the court considers relevant to the case.
Over time, many custody orders become outdated. If you feel the terms of your custody arrangement are no longer fair or either party has experienced a substantial change in circumstances that may warrant adjusting the custody order, you can file an order modification case with the court.
At Blood Law, PLLC, our team can help you find the best path forward in your custody arrangement.
To schedule a consultation with a lawyer who will fight for your child's rights and interests in and out of court, contact us online or via phone at (704) 387-6090.
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With offices in Charlotte, Waxhaw & Lake Norman, we make it easier for families across North 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.
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Anna Blood Founder and Managing Attorney
Olivia Lowery Senior Attorney
Allison Morris Associate Attorney
Michael Mohun Associate Attorney
Allison Thomas Senior Attorney
Rachael Beller Associate Attorney
Cameron Morris Associate Attorney
Debra McDuffie Paralegal
Liz Whitaker Paralegal
Samantha Mishko Law Clerk
Leigh Ann Broome Director of Operations
Tandi Gerow Senior Client Coordinator
Savannah Langley Client Relations Coordinator