At Greene Crow & Smith, P.A., our North Carolina child custody attorneys are adept at helping clients resolve even complex parenting issues. Our experience has taught us that when parents are going through a divorce, nothing is more important to them, or potentially more contentious, than child custody issues. While some fortunate couples agree on where the children should live, for the majority of parents the thought of living apart from their children is devastating.
This is where having one of our talented, empathic attorneys at your side becomes invaluable. From the time you first contact us, you will begin to feel the relief of having strong legal support in a situation in which you may feel overwhelmed or victimized. Because we know that every child custody case is unique, we will listen carefully to your account of the situation and strategize accordingly.
Two Types of Child Custody
There are two kinds of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody involves a parent’s ability to make decisions central to the child’s life, like those concerning:
- Medical care
- Extracurricular activities and pursuits
In the vast majority of cases, parents can agree to have joint legal custody. Physical custody, which determines where the child lives, is much more likely to be a bone of contention, even though the noncustodial parent will be entitled to visitation rights.
All Things Being Equal, Joint Custody May Seem To Be Most Equitable Option
Because the majority of parents are wage earners, joint custody, in which the children reside alternately with each parent, seems to be the wisest choice. Though this sounds fair and reasonable, it is not always a viable option.
Consider, for example, that unless parenting time is divided in two in terms of years, rather than weeks (an extremely difficult arrangement for most children), the divorced parents have to live in close proximity for joint custody to be feasible.
Other reasons joint custody may not be seriously considered are:
- Problems with one parent’s work schedule (e.g. working night shifts)
- Very young children who still require nursing or other maternal care
- One parent who is considered unfit due to substance abuse, mental instability, etc.
If joint custody is impractical, one parent can have physical custody while the other parent will be entitled to visitation rights during which she or he spends independent time with the child or children. Commonly, visitation, also known as parenting time, consists of one or two evenings a week, every other weekend, some school holidays, and portions of the child’s summer vacation.
How Sole Child Custody Is Determined in New Bern, North Carolina
Assuming that joint custody is not a workable option unless the parents are able to determine physical child custody on their own or through arbitration, the court will decide child custody based on “the best interests of the child.” Judges who are given this consequential task take it seriously and use the following factors to make the choice:
- Each parent’s living arrangement in terms of privacy issues/sanitation/safety
- The child’s age/ whether the child is a nursing infant
- The child’s existing bond with each parent
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Whether either parent is considered unfit
- Each parents’ work schedule
- Estimation of the child’s distress at moving out of the existing home
- The child’s preference, if expressed (though this is not legally binding)
- Each parent’s willingness to help the child maintain a relationship with the other parent
It should be noted that the last factor mentioned is extremely important. The court is unlikely to give sole custody to a parent who seems apt to alienate the child from the other parent.
The experienced attorneys of Greene Crow & Smith will assist you in the struggle, making sure to bring every bit of pertinent information to bear, whether during mediation negotiations or during a courtroom trial.
What happens if one divorcing spouse is an unfit parent?
The legal definition of an unfit parent is when the parent, through their conduct, fails to provide proper guidance, care, or support. Also, if there are issues of domestic violence, neglect, or substance abuse the offending parent may be deemed unfit. If one spouse is accused of being an unfit parent for any reason, the court will allow the opposing child custody attorneys to try to prove or disprove these serious charges. In such a situation, it is critical to have a powerful child custody attorney standing up for you in court.
No one wants an unfit parent to raise a child. On the other hand, no one wants untrue, malicious charges to prevent a parent from having contact with his or her child. Whichever side of this battle you’re on, our sharp attorneys have your back.
Contact Our Experienced New Bern, North Carolina Child Custody Attorneys Today
If you are anticipating or already embroiled in a parental struggle for child custody, you need the aggressive child custody attorneys at Greene Crow & Smith. Whether you are terrified that your abusive ex-spouse will have control of your child or you have been falsely accused of being an unfit parent, our child custody attorneys will work energetically to defend your position and protect your child. Contact our office today to get a consultation!