Child Custody Lawyers in Charlotte, NC
Miller Bowles Law has a team of child custody lawyers in Charlotte, NC with the experience, skill, and dedication to helping with your North Carolina child custody case. Contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our child custody lawyers in Charlotte, NC.
CHILD CUSTODY IN NORTH CAROLINA
Child custody is often a complex mix of emotional and legal issues. It is the legal determination, either by agreement of the parents or by order of the court, for where and how minor children will be raised. Parents often state that determining child custody is the most stressful part of family separation.
Here at Miller Bowles Law, our team of child custody lawyers in Charlotte, NC know the important questions to ask when determining how child custody could be decided in your case. We want to learn about your child and help you decide the best course of action for the best possible outcome for you and your child.
LEGAL AND PHYSICAL CUSTODY
In a North Carolina child custody case, we generally refer to two different types of child custody:
Legal Child Custody
Legal child custody is the decision-making power of each parent to decide long-term issues for a child such as where the child goes to school, what doctors they see and what medical treatment they may receive, what religion they will be taught, and any other matters of lasting significance.
Physical Child Custody
Physical child custody is just what it sounds like–where the child is physically located each night. Most child custody arrangements are considered joint custody, even if one parent has substantially more time with a child than the other. Several years ago, the North Carolina court began referring to most custody arrangements as “joint custody” and instead identifying a “primary” custodial parent and a “secondary” custodial parent.
HOW DOES THE COURT DECIDE CHILD CUSTODY?
The laws of North Carolina require the Court to make a determination of child custody based on what “will best promote the interests and welfare” of that child.
Just as your child is unique, each case is unique. The Court will look at all relevant factors to determine what child custody arrangement the Court believes is in the best interests of the minor child. To that end, almost any topic can be relevant to determine child custody, including information about each parent and his/her home, each parent’s work schedule or ability to care for the child, the historical caregiving by each parent, medical issues for either parent or the child, and any other issue the Court believes is necessary to best promote the interests and welfare of the child.
Except in emergency or exigent circumstances, before you go to Court on any child custody case, the law requires parents to engage in some form of mediation outside of Court. The purpose of mediation is to give parents an opportunity to resolve their child custody case without the need for judicial intervention. The majority of child custody cases are resolved in mediation or through negotiation without the Court’s assistance. Reaching an agreement on child custody allows each parent to have a say in the custody arrangement and tailor any agreement to the parents’ and child’s schedules.
If the parties are not able to reach a settlement, the issue of child custody will be heard by one of our Family Court Judges, who will determine and decide child custody. It is hard to imagine giving a stranger that has never met your children the ability to determine your child custody arrangement, but that is essentially what parents do when their case is brought before a Judge in Court. Our Judges are excellent decision-makers, but in some cases, it is better for the parents to decide on the child custody arrangement.
EMERGENCY CHILD CUSTODY
In certain cases, parents may seek an expedited determination of child custody. When there is a substantial risk of bodily harm or sexual abuse to a child or substantial risk a child will be abducted or removed from North Carolina to evade the Court’s jurisdiction, a parent may seek emergency child custody. Emergency child custody is awarded only in rare situations in which there is concrete danger to the child.
Where there is not an emergency but an expedited child custody decision is warranted, parents may seek a temporary parenting arrangement hearing. In situations of parental relocation, repeated “snatching” of a child, or drug or alcohol abuse issues by a parent, the Court may conduct a brief hearing to enter a temporary child custody order.
MODIFICATION OF CHILD CUSTODY
Under North Carolina law, the Court has jurisdiction over all minor children until they reach age 18, so until your child reaches age 18, you may seek a determination of child custody.
Because the Court must act in the “best interests” of the minor child, the Court always has the ability to modify child custody. Often, custody orders are labeled “permanent”, but the Court never loses the power to change that order as long as your child is still a minor.
To modify child custody, the Court must find there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the minor child since the entry of the prior court order. Some examples of a substantial change are changes in a parent’s work schedule or living arrangement, interference by one parent with the visitation schedule, or changes in your child’s educational or medical needs.
If you're looking for more help on a future or impending child custody case, feel free to contact us so one of child custody lawyers in Charlotte, NC can assist you today.