Child Custody & Visitation
When navigating legal separation in North Carolina, every parent wants to ensure that his or her children are sheltered from the emotional toll that the process can inflict. Determining which parent has custody can be difficult for both parent and child.
For many individuals, child custody can be the most important and emotional issue that arises when a marriage ends. Contrary to popular assumption, North Carolina law does not favor one parent over the other. There are many circumstances that can affect the determination of both parental fitness and best interest of the minor children. Even if you do not intend to seek custody of your children, your access to them is of critical importance.
At Warren Family Law, we have represented mothers and fathers in mediating custody disputes and in litigating custody disputes getting. Attorney Jim Warren has helped Charlotte area families negotiate custody matters for more than 30 years, and he knows the determining factors that are most important to judges in the family law courts.
In many family dynamics, grandparents play an out-sized role in raising their grandchildren. This dynamic can arise for a variety of reasons—parental work schedules, strife in the home, or simple proximity. At Warren Family Law, we understand that when marriages break up, maintaining relationships forged among grandparents and their grandchildren is one of the highest priorities many families have.
It’s so important that grandparents are fully-informed and prepared to protect their visitation rights, even if a former son-in-law or daughter-in-law is trying to act contrary to these interests. Grandparents have limited visitation rights in North Carolina. If you are going to seek access to your grandchildren, there’s a limited window of time for you to execute a request.
If you are worried about losing contact with your grandchildren, it’s important that you learn more about your rights and act quickly, as soon as your grandchildren become involved in a custody dispute. Once the child’s parents resolve their dispute, your rights to intervene and seek visitation have expired. Contact Warren Family Law to learn more.
What are some important guidelines to focus on if we go to court?
- Focus on the best interest of the child.
- Before apprising the child of the situation, be cautious about discussing problems with the other parent and ultimately involving the child in the case.
- The dominant principle of the NC court is the “Welfare of the Child.” Custody will be awarded to the person or institution who in the opinion of the judge, will promote the best interest and welfare of the child.
What is Joint Legal Custody versus Shared Physical Custody?
However, if mother and father are not able to reach a mutual decision there are options available to overcome the impasse. Joint or shared physical custody means each parent having access to the children. Parents can have equal access to the children or one parent can have more access to the other. The number of overnights that one parent has can, once a threshold is reached, affect the amount of child support. Even in cases where the parties have equal access to the minor children, if one parent has more income than the other, that parent can still pay child support to the parent with the lower income.
There are two forms of joint custody. First there is joint legal custody and then there is joint or shared physical custody. Joint legal custody requires mother and father to consult with each other regarding all decisions affecting the health, education, and welfare of the minor child(ren). While each parent has the right to make day-to-day decisions concerning the children while they are in their physical custody, as to any decisions affecting the health, education, and welfare of the children including, but not limited to, tutoring, counseling, sports activities, camps, treatment, therapy, and other such decisions must be made jointly by mother and father.
What are Grandparents rights?
While anyone can pursue custody of a minor child, including grandparents, in order to prevail against parents, they must show that the parent or parents have engaged in conduct which contravenes their constitutionally protected right as parents. If you are a grandparent whose child has separated from their spouse, it is very important for you to seek independent legal advice about your rights. If in the very unfortunate event that your child should pass away after a custody/visitation order has been entered, you would not be able to pursue visitation with your grandchildren in North Carolina unless you had previously been allowed to intervene in the case before the final order was entered. As a grandparent, if your child is separating from their spouse, it is very important for you to seek independent legal advice about your rights regarding your grandchildren.
A court can, under certain circumstances, award a grandparent visitation rights with minor children. In order for a grandparent to be awarded visitation, they must intervene in an action where there is a pending custody/visitation issue between the parents. If a complaint or motion has been filed putting at issue custody and/or visitation a grandparent or grandparents can move to intervene in the action. If allowed to intervene, they are then parties to the case and can be awarded visitation. However, if there is no pending matter between mother and father. For instance, where an order has already been entered resolving the issues of custody and visitation between mother and father, there is nothing pending for the grandparents to intervene in. Grandparents’ rights in North Carolina are limited.