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Charlotte Family Law Blog

The children should come first when parenting with an ex

Even after a couple chooses to separate or get a divorce, they are still responsible for raising their children together. Ideally, parents in North Carolina and elsewhere who are no longer together will present a united front at all times. Presenting a unified front sends a message to a son or daughter that the rules apply no matter whom he or she is with. It also prevents a child from trying to exploit a parental disagreement for his or her own gain.

In most cases, parents share custody and other rights to their children. Therefore, they should understand that they have to involve each other when making decisions about their sons and daughters. This typically applies to major decisions such as where a child goes to school as well as relatively minor decisions like not allowing a child to use a pacifier.

How to keep children safe from abuse

As part of a North Carolina child custody proceeding, a parent may allege that a son or daughter's safety is in peril while with the other parent. Upon hearing the allegation, a judge might take a series of steps to determine the validity of the claim. As part of the investigation, local authorities will likely contact a child's teachers, neighbors and others who interact with that child.

Parents are encouraged to present as much evidence as possible to verify their claims. For example, they could introduce text messages or other digital messages that contain abusive or threatening language. They can also submit witness statements or ask that witnesses testify in court about a former romantic partner's actions. Medical records might prove that a child has undergone emotional, physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a parent.

How to create a parenting plan that works

When individuals in North Carolina or any other state get divorced, they will typically retain parental rights to their children. Ideally, parents will work together to create a plan that will form the basis for how decisions are made that impact their children. Assuming that it is practical, the plan should strive to divide parenting time on a 50/50 basis. By spending time with both parents, children feel as if they are loved and supported by both parents.

If possible, children should spend no more than two or three consecutive days with the same parent. This ensures that a child doesn't have to go too long without seeing or communicating with an important person in his or her life. While a parent could always call or communicate with a child through text messages or emails, it might make the parent who has the minor feel uncomfortable.

Research looks at parental alienation syndrome

When parents in North Carolina go through a divorce, they could end up in a contentious custody battle as well. In some cases, a parent may allege that abuse has occurred. There are cases in which the other parent may counter this with a claim of parental alienation.

However, some experts say that there is no basis for the concept of parental alienation. It is based on the work of a child psychologist who saw a large number of child sexual abuse cases during custody battles in the 1980s and who theorized that mothers were inventing these allegations. Since then, parental alienation has become a gender-neutral accusation, but studies have found that the way those accusations are treated in court is not. One researcher who did the first-ever national study of parental alienation syndrome examined data on court cases from 2005 to 2014. The study found that mothers were less likely than fathers to win a custody case when they claimed parental alienation.

Is it possible to modify child support payments?

As a divorced parent, you likely have to pay child support to continue providing for your children, even when you aren’t with them. These payments, however, are not set in stone. As life and personal circumstances change, your child support payments might have to change with them.

 

What to know about visitation rights

It is not uncommon for North Carolina parents who are denied physical child custody to be given visitation rights. Generally speaking, the law prefers that both parents have a relationship with their children. It is important to note that parents are not necessarily denied custody of their sons or daughters because they are bad people. Instead, a judge has decided that it's in the child's best interest to live primarily with one parent.

Visitation schedules can be as flexible or specific as necessary to serve the best interests of the child. For example, a parent may be granted the right to see a child over the weekend or certain nights during the week. However, it is also possible that a parent will be allowed to see a child for several weeks during the summer or during other school breaks.

Taking the right steps to modify child custody

When most people in North Carolina reach an agreement or receive a ruling on how child custody will be arranged in the aftermath of a relationship, whether it was a marriage or not, those people probably expect that there is little to nothing they can do about the terms of that arrangement. However, in certain circumstances, there may be options for those who wish to attempt to modify their child custody arrangement.

But, it is important to note that changing a child custody arrangement isn't always that easy. For starters, the other parent may not agree with the proposed changes. Or, the change might be a big change, like when the parent who has physical custody of the child in question wants to move to another town or even another state. Unless the parties can reach an agreement on the terms of any given modification of child custody, a request must be submitted to family law court.

Know your rights when it comes to child custody and visitation

Family law issues in North Carolina that involve child custody and visitation can be some of the most complicated issues that a court will face. These types of cases involve not only legal issues to address, but also the strained emotions and strong reactions that can occur when one party feels slighted over the other, or when one party believes that the wrong decisions on behalf of the child are being made, either by the court or the other parent. Our readers in North Carolina who are facing child custody and visitation issues in family law court should know their rights.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that the family law courts in North Carolina will be fixated on the "best interests of the child," which is a legal standard that can seem a bit nebulous and subjective. That is because it is. What is "best" for any given child will differ widely, depending on the unique family dynamics that are involved in the case.

Some crucial points to know about spousal support

Spousal support issues in divorce cases in North Carolina are oftentimes looked at only through the lens of which spouse will be paying, and how much will be paid. However, it is important to remember that these issues come up in a divorce because one of the soon-to-be ex-spouses believes that some form of financial assistance is necessary to "even things out" in terms of education and employment.

As a recent news article noted, spousal support is oftentimes necessary because, in many relationships, one of the spouses may have, at some point, given up a job or career to take on extra responsibilities in the home so that the other spouse could attend school or advance a career. When an opportunity like that is given up by one spouse or the other, an order of spousal support is one way to help make up the difference in the event of a divorce.

What will happen if I do not get custody of my child?

Courts prioritize a child’s best interests when deciding what child custody arrangement to order. It is usually in a child’s best interest to maintain relationships with both parents, so courts typically award parents joint child custody.

However, there are also some instances when a court may decide it is better for the child to live with one parent and maintain a relationship with the other parent through scheduled visits. In situations like this, a court may award one parent sole custody and award the other parent visitation.

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