Child Custody Attorney Serving Burlington, Graham, Mebane and North Carolina
As a parent, you clearly know that your children had nothing to do with the decision to divorce. However, children by default think it’s their fault mom and dad are separating. When parents cannot agree about child custody or visitation rights, it’s very difficult on the children.
Children need to know that they are the object of their parent’s love, not the reason for the divorce. When both parents are together, it’s important that it remains civil and they save any arguments or disagreements for a private discussion. Parents who practice putting their children’s needs before their own feelings often raise fully developed and happy children.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Who is Entitled to Child Custody?
A. In order for a court to grant custody, the court must find that the custodian is a fit and proper person to have custody and that custody with that person is in the best interests of the children. There is not a presumption favoring mothers over fathers. All other things being equal, mothers and fathers have equal rights to the custody of their children. There is a presumption favoring natural parents over third parties, such as grandparents, aunts, and neighbors. Natural parents have protected rights to parent their own children. However, natural parents can lose those protected rights if they take action that is inconsistent with the best interests of the children.
Q. What is Sole Custody?
A. Sole legal custody means that one person has sole decision-making power over a child and typically has primary physical custody of that child.
Q. What is Joint Custody?
A. Joint legal custody means shared decision-making power over a child. It does not mean shared physical custody of the child. Joint custody means shared decision-making power over a child and shared physical custody of the child. It does not necessarily mean equally shared physical custody. When parents have joint custody, they share in major decisions about a child, and often each parent has the child more than every other weekend. For joint custody to be successful, the parents need to be able to communicate effectively and to cooperate in parenting their child together.
Q. How is Custody Determined?
A. Custody may be agreed upon by the parties. If it is, the parties may set out the terms of their custody agreement in a Separation Agreement or Parenting Agreement that is not usually filed with the court or in a Consent Order that is filed with the court. If the parents are unable to agree on their own, they can try mediation or arbitration. If they do not want to try alternative dispute resolution, they can go to court to let a judge decide, but in most districts they will be required to attend mediation through the court system before they can be heard by a judge.
Q. What are Visitation Rights?
A. If one parent has custody, the other has the right to have visitation with his or her child. There are no general rules about when and how much visitation the noncustodial parent should get. That depends on various factors including ages of the children, the children’s schedules, how far apart the parents live, and the work schedules of the parents.
Q. When determining a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent, the parties (or the court) How is Child Support Determined?
A. If the parties’ combined income is less than $300,000 per year, child support is determined based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. There are generally four numbers that are needed to calculate child support: 1) Mother’s gross monthly income; 2) Father’s gross monthly income; 3) Children’s portion of the monthly health insurance premium; and 4) Work-related childcare costs. If either parent has other children in the home or for which he or she pays child support, those numbers are included in the calculation as well. There are different worksheets used in the calculation depending on the custodial arrangement. The guidelines and the worksheets are available at www.nccourts.org.
Q. When Does Child Support Terminate?
A. Child support generally terminates when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. If the child turns 18 before graduation, child support continues until graduation. If the child graduates before turning 18, child support continues until the child turns 18. Child support may terminate earlier or extend later but only in certain rare circumstances.
Q. What Happens if I Don’t Pay?
A. You can be held in contempt or prosecuted for failure to pay child support. You can be put in jail. Your driver’s license and other licenses can be suspended. Your tax refunds can be intercepted. The courts have a host of options to enforce child support orders.
Q. Can Child Support be Changed?
A. Yes. Either parent may seek a change (increase or decrease) in child support at any time if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred after the order was entered by the court. A substantial change in circumstances is presumed by the court if the request to change the support order is made three or more years after the entry of the order and there is a 15 percent difference between the amount of support being paid and the amount of support that would be required with new calculations under the Guidelines.
Moving Forward with Happy and Healthy Children is Possible
Your children need a lawyer who understands the child custody process and is sensitive to their well-being throughout this process. The attorneys at Hanford Law have years of experience helping families just like yours. Schedule a free consultation by calling our friendly team at (336) 570-2211.