Goldsboro Child Custody Lawyers
What happens to the children can be a painful and emotional subject in any divorce settlement. Parents care deeply about what happens to their kids and want to be there for them. The state of North Carolina vastly prefers these issues be worked out by the parents and their Goldsboro child custody lawyer in negotiations. The state even mandates mediation for parents who cannot agree before a case can go to court.
As a result, it’s not common for child custody decisions to be decided solely by a judge. But that is a possibility if an agreement cannot be reached. What’s more, any custody plan is subject to judicial approval, to ensure it meets with the parameters outlined in North Carolina law.
Child Custody Rules in North Carolina
The most basic rule of child custody is this–the best interests of the child are always paramount. There aren’t very many “always” situations in the field of law, but this is one of them. While fairness to the parents is certainly desired, if that ever conflicts with the best interests of the child, then the latter must be given deference.
A common example of where this could become a factor would be when one of the parents will keep the house that the family is currently living in. Both parents might be upright, responsible people, fully capable of sharing in the parenting duties if the children were to split time with each parent.
But it might be determined that the best interests of the child are for them to live full-time in the house they are familiar with. As a result, one parent might get sole custody, with the other settling for visitation rights. This example underscores how the rest of the divorce settlement–specifically property division–might have ripple effects into custody decisions.
This is an example where a custody decision favored one parent, but another guiding rule of child custody is that it’s generally presumed that children benefit when both parents have an equal role in the lives of their kids. While there are situations, like the one above, where that might not be possible, but equal parenting roles are given the benefit of the doubt at the outset of a settlement.
What Are the 2 Types of Child Custody?
The two types of custody that must be worked out are physical custody–where the child will live–and legal custody, which refers to decision-making power in important areas like religion, education, and medical care. Custody in either area can be granted one of two ways–sole custody puts one parent predominantly in charge. Joint custody means that both parents will share responsibilities equally .
It’s important to note that simply because one parent might get sole custody in one area, does not mean that joint custody can’t be awarded in another. Our common example from above–where one parent gets sole physical custody–might be accompanied with joint custody on legal matters.
What if My Spouse Is an Unfit Parent?
It’s an unfortunate reality in our world that issues ranging from addiction to abuse to neglect do happen, and all of those can render a parent unfit to raise children. North Carolina family courts will certainly take this into consideration and can restrict–if not completely eliminate–an unfit parent’s custody rights. However, the burden of proof lies exclusively with the parent that wants sole custody. They and their Goldson child custody attorney must demonstrate with evidence why the other parent is unfit.
If you believe your soon-to-be ex-spouse is an unfit parent, start documenting that as soon as possible. Testimony from neighbors, teachers, coaches, and others can be introduced. If there are credit card receipts of irresponsible spending, that can be introduced as evidence. So can the testimony of family members and perhaps even the children themselves.
On the flip side, if a spouse believes they are–or are likely to be–unjustly accused of being an unfit parent, they should not waste time in getting a Goldsboro child custody lawyer involved. While the burden of proof might be on the other spouse, a proactive approach to fending off allegations might be the difference in being a part of the lives of one’s children. And that’s something worth fighting for.
Strickland Agner Pittman understands the value of family and we know that our children are always worth fighting for, even during what can be a dark period of life in a divorce.