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Charlotte Family Law Blog

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.

What are the basics about spousal support?

Our readers in North Carolina know that every divorce case is different and so, necessarily, the issues that will be important in one case may not be the primary concern in another. For example, many divorcing couples who are parents are, first and foremost, concerned with child custody and child support. However, oftentimes, those couples who are not parents will likely be more concerned with the issues of property division and alimony, also known these days as "spousal support."

So, what are the basics about spousal support that our readers should know if they are contemplating a divorce? Well, for starters, it is important to understand that alimony likely will not be awarded if one spouse or the other does not request it.

What are defenses to heart balm claims?

Couples divorce for many reasons. Both people may want out of the relationship, or one partner might want to end the marriage, while the other partner wishes they could work things out. Additionally, there may be a third party involved in the relationship that causes the divorce to happen.

In a few states, including North Carolina, a spouse can take legal action against this third-party who initially drove a wedge between the two spouses. This legal action is known as a heart balm claim.

Child custody and "virtual" visitation

When the focus of a contentious family law court case in North Carolina is on child custody, it can be easy to see why there is so much emotion involved. After all, most parents want what is best for their children, and usually parents believe that spending time with their children is good for their family development. However, not all parents are in a position to spend as much time as they would like with their children under the terms of a child custody arrangement. That is where "virtual" visitation may come into play.

As our readers might guess, "virtual" visitation is a catch-all reference to the use of technology by parents and children to connect when they might not be able to be in the same place together. In general, virtual visitation usually comes up when one parent is awarded primary physical custody. In such a situation, the other parent may want to include virtual visitation rights among the grander scheme of overall visitation rights.

Financial issues may cause divorce and alimony

It is common to hear that one of the primary reasons North Carolina couples get divorced is because of financial issues. Specifically, the lack of funds can cause significant strain on a marriage. In a divorce case, those financial issues are likely to be part of one of the most contentious issues: alimony.

If financial issues are what caused a divorce, will an ex-spouse be entitled to alimony? The answer, as is the case with answers to most legal questions, is, "it depends." First, usually one or the other spouse must actually ask to receive alimony. From there, various aspects of the marriage will be examined by the family law court to determine if alimony should be awarded and, if so, for how long the alimony payments must be made and in what amount.

Child custody factors in the "best interests of the child"

Our readers in North Carolina who are familiar with previous posts here know that sometimes child custody disputes can become the most contentious part of a divorce case. Or, in those cases in which the parents of the child were never married to begin with, child custody issues can start off as contentious right from the very beginning.

When it comes to deciding child custody -- both legal custody and physical custody -- most family law courts, like to see the couples work out an arrangement that works for both of them. However, sometimes, an out-of-court agreement simply is not possible and, as a result, the parties end up litigating the issue in court. When that happens, a family law judge will weigh certain factors to determine "the best interests of the child" and how to solve the child custody problem.

How can alimony affect post-divorce finances?

Our readers in North Carolina who are familiar with previous posts here know that alimony can play a significant role in any given divorce case. A request for alimony, especially if it was not expected, can put a halt to all other progress in a divorce case because it can lead to one spouse still being tied to the other even after the divorce is finalized. That, as a result, can trigger some emotional reactions. Although that is the case during the pending divorce litigation, how can alimony affect post-divorce finances?

A recent news article noted that alimony is just one of the potentially significant ramifications for a person's finances in post-divorce life. But, alimony needs to be accounted for nonetheless. As people prepare for the reality of post-divorce expenses -- now with a single-income household, which is a change -- they need to understand how to factor in alimony, either as an expense or a source of funds.

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