Legal issues related to children are often the most emotionally wrenching and contentious aspects of separation and divorce. Despite the challenges you may face as a parent, creating a thoughtful and workable arrangement is essential for your children’s well-being.
Although parents can make private custody agreements, they are not legally enforceable without the judge’s approval. Judges must evaluate agreements to determine whether they are in the children’s best interests. This is where custody disputes may arise.
If you and your co-parent have decided to live separately, talk to a Pineville child custody lawyer for support and guidance. Our team of local family attorneys is here to help you create a written, enforceable plan to co-parent your children and set them up for success.
There are two forms of custody separating parents must agree on: legal custody and physical custody.
The parent with legal custody has the authority to make decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and similar issues. If the parents have joint legal custody, they must decide those issues together and should consider how they will resolve potential disagreements.
The parent with physical custody provides a home, while the other has visitation rights. Parents with joint physical custody should divide time with the children based on practical considerations such as the distance between the children’s school and the parents’ homes, each parent’s work schedule, the children’s extracurricular activities, and other factors. Developing a predictable routine for children helps them cope and adapt to their parents’ separation.
Sometimes, a parent seeks sole physical custody to prevent contact between the other parent and the children. Judges rarely grant these requests unless there is evidence that the other parent is abusive or unfit. If you are concerned about your co-parent spending time with your children, have a candid discussion about the situation with a Pineville child custody attorney to learn about your legal options. We’re here to empower you to make the right decision for your child’s future.
According to North Carolina General Statutes § 50-13.2, both parents have equal rights to their children. If you and your co-parent decide to live separately, you might make an informal agreement regarding custody. These arrangements work well for some couples. However, if one parent breaks the agreement, the other has little legal recourse.
Parents could work with a mediator to write a custody and visitation agreement that works for them and their children. If you and your ex struggle to communicate and collaborate, a mediator could help you put your differences aside and design a practical plan that best serves your children.
Whether you and your co-parent are unmarried, married and separated with no plans to divorce, or intend to divorce eventually, a written custody and visitation plan is enforceable by either party. An experienced Pineville child custody attorney will work with you and your mediator to resolve any issues in reaching a custody settlement.
Parents in a custody dispute must petition the court to make a final decision on custody and visitation issues. Courts strongly prefer that parents settle custody issues between themselves, so they usually send parents to mediation before holding a hearing. However, if mediation is inappropriate or if it fails, the court will rule on custody matters.
Judges decide custody issues by determining what result is in the children’s best interests. Among others, a judge considers the following factors when making custody decisions:
Although the judge will consider the opinion of an older child who is able to explain a preference for a certain living arrangement, the child’s opinion does not weigh more heavily than other factors.
An inability to agree means the parents do not work well together. As such, judges rarely award joint custody when there is a custody dispute. Instead, judges often award sole custody to one parent and allow the other visitation. Our Pineville attorneys will work to ensure the judge has a clear understanding of your unique custody qualifications.
If you are separating from your co-parent, you might feel your relationship with your children is being threatened. Parents living separately often maintain close and nurturing relationships with their children, but this requires you to prioritize their needs.
A Pineville child custody lawyer recognizes how emotional and challenging it is to negotiate a parenting plan. Our team members are ready to help in any way possible. Reach out to us today to discuss your needs with a compassionate family law attorney.