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When couples divorce, decisions regarding child custody, visitation, and co-parenting are the most sensitive and, at times, contentious. With both your rights as a parent and the interests of your children at stake, it is crucial to seek counsel from an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible after you and your spouse decide to separate. Our Raleigh child custody lawyers at Fresh Start Family Law are here to help parents navigate this difficult process and to gain a better understanding of how our laws are applied to your individual custody case.

Contact us at (919) 849-5744 to learn more about your child custody case in a consultation with a Raleigh Board Certified family attorney.

Various Types of Child Custody in North Carolina

Child custody consists of numerous rights and responsibilities that manage the caretaking relationship of parents and their children. Our Raleigh child custody attorneys can help if you are having a dispute regarding custody of your child(ren). Our attorneys are adept in all state laws governing this issue and with local government, police, and the courts. Additionally, the convenience of hiring a local law firm can be an important time-saving advantage.

Two types of custody exist under North Carolina Law:

  • Physical custody: this defines in whose household a child will live after the divorce, usually that of the primary caretaker (called the custodial parent) but sometimes both homes on an alternating basis.
  • Legal custody: this is the authority of one or both parents to decide on matters relating to the well-being of a child, including healthcare, education, and religion.

These two types of custody may exist as sole custody or joint custody in Raleigh. For example, in cases of sole legal custody, only one parent has the right to make legal decisions for the child while the other parent may have visitation rights with the child. In cases of joint legal custody, both parents have equal rights on decisions concerning their child.

What Determines Child Custody in NC?

Under North Carolina law, both spouses are considered co-parents with potential full legal custody rights in front of a judge. The courts encourage the resolution of custody issues by agreement of the co-parents. Courts will only make a judgment about child custody if no agreement can be made between both parents. In fact, state law requires that co-parents first submit their dispute to child custody mediation before asking the court to hear the case. After hearing a contested case, a court may grant primary physical custody to one parent and secondary physical custody to the other or joint physical custody to both parents.

What Do Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases in NC?

Other child custody issues relating to the co-parents’ respective privileges and responsibilities are based on what is in the children’s best interest.

Certain factors may determine the court’s decision including the following:

  • The fitness of each parent: the courts pay attention to parenting skills and the reasonableness of parental conduct; they prefer granting primary custody to parents who are in good health.
  • Each parent’s relationship with the child: if one parent has been the child’s primary caretaker due to the other’s demanding or unpredictable work schedule or general shortness of time, that can be a strong factor in determining physical custody.
  • Living arrangements for the child: the court also considers each parent’s residence and whether it is adequate for the child to reside when in that parent’s care.
  • Safety of the home: the legislature has expressly identified home safety and protection of children from acts of domestic violence as factors in determining physical custody.
  • The age of the child: the child’s preference for living with one parent over the other will play a part in the custody decision and increasingly so as the child matures.

Creating Sensible & Workable Visitation Schedules

When a Raleigh court grants primary physical custody to one parent, the secondary custodial parent is entitled to visitation. Visitation is the right to spend time with the child. Typically, visitation is allowed at least once every two weeks or more frequently by child custody agreement or court order.

In Raleigh, grandparents also have visitation rights to their grandchild. This follows the same process as custody or visitation by a parent. The grandparents must prove to the court that visitation would be in the best interests of the child. At New Start Family Law, we apply our skills and experience as child custody lawyers in Raleigh, North Carolina to foster a visitation schedule that best serves your interests as well as your children’s.

Turn to Us When a Child Custody Dispute Arises

If you retain our firm, we will meet with you to discuss the facts of your case and your objectives. Our attorneys can then advise and assist you in taking the optimal route to achieve them. The attorneys at New Start New Family Law understand that you would not want your future relationship with your ex-spouse and children jeopardized by litigation. When you consult with our child custody attorneys in Raleigh, you will be in the hands of top legal professionals.

Contact Fresh Start Family Law at your earliest convenience to learn more about your options. Call (919) 849-5744 today.

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