Custody of the children is an important issue in many divorce actions. The goal is to achieve a custody arrangement that meets the best interest of the children. Even simply deciding where the children will spend the holidays or who will have parenting time during summer vacations can affect the emotional well-being of a child.
In North Carolina, there are two types of child custody:
- Legal - This gives one or both parents the right to make legal decisions for the child regarding education, health care, religion and his or her general welfare. Sole legal custody is when only one parent can make these decisions. Joint legal custody awards that right to both parents.
- Physical – This is where the child resides. Sole physical custody is when a child lives with one parent, and the other parent has visitation rights. Joint or shared physical custody occurs when a child is able to reside with each parent for a substantial amount of time during the course of a calendar year (even if the time is not precisely “equal” between the parents).
The law firm of Tash & Kurtz, PLLC devotes its entire practice to family law matters in North Carolina. Our principal attorneys are Board Certified Specialists in Family Law and are committed to helping our clients in matters concerning divorce, alimony, postseparation support, child custody, child support, equitable distribution, and separation agreements.
Settling on the children’s best interest is often an elusive goal. Each parent may feel that he or she offers the better option for the home of their children. Each parent may have legitimate concerns about the other’s parenting abilities, or the other parent may simply be concerned about being a consistent part of his/her child’s upbringing. Too often, parents embroiled in a divorce will use a request for custody or a threat to request custody as a weapon. This “weapon” may be used to try to gain some other kind of bargaining edge in the proceedings, such as concessions on the division of property.
Whatever the reason, children should not be used as a weapon. There is only one legitimate reason to contest the custody of a child, and that is because the parent believes that the custody arrangement proposed by the other parent is not in the child’s best interest. This can be the result of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect, or substance abuse problems on the part of the other parent.
The judge does not know you or your children. If you want the court to appreciate your side of the case, you are going to have to provide details about you and your family. You must be able to back up that information with as much independent proof as possible. Your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and opinions are all valid. However, the court must base its decision on more concrete impartial evidence.
In custody actions, witnesses are important. Anyone who can testify to your abilities as a loving parent, such as schoolteachers, neighbors, friends, or family, may be able to influence favorably the judge’s decision. To prepare your strongest case, consult with a family law attorney at Tash & Kurt, PLLC.
We are strong proponents of negotiated or mediated settlements. We believe that this is the best way for each parent to remain a strong influence on their children throughout their lives. When trial becomes necessary, however, we are aggressive advocates for our client's legal rights with regard to custody issues. We are also experienced in expediting motions related to child custody and visitation violations.
If you need an attorney for a North Carolina divorce or other family law matter, please contact us.
For further information, please see Gary Tash’s article on Custody (which includes a copy of the children’s “bill of rights”).
For more information on Child Custody, please see our Child Custody Frequently Asked Questions.