Child custody disputes are some of the most trying and emotionally charged issues in a divorce. The Lincolnton child custody lawyers at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert have years of experience helping families like yours resolve custody disputes. We’re ready to stand up for you and protect your right to be with your children.
Our firm is widely respected in Lincolnton and throughout North Carolina. In fact, our firm has been ranked on the U.S News & World Report’s list of Best Law Firms for 2020.
Contact us online or call our Lincolnton, NC, office today for a confidential consultation with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate family lawyers.
Child Custody Laws in North Carolina
Strictly speaking, a custody order from the courts is not necessary when couples separate, as long as they agree on how the child will be raised and who will make decisions regarding the child’s care and upbringing.
Furthermore, courts generally urge couples to resolve their custody dispute outside the courtroom if at all possible, as this generally makes the process easier on the child.
North Carolina’s child custody laws do not automatically favor one parent over the other. Mothers and fathers alike can seek custody, even if they are not married. Grandparents could also seek custody of a child in certain circumstances.
How Is Custody Determined in Lincolnton, NC?
The guiding principle for all child custody agreements in North Carolina is that the child’s best interests must come first. In other words, it’s not about what makes you or the other parent happy. Instead, it’s about what will be the best custody arrangement for the child.
State law says that it’s preferable to have both parents involved in raising a child if possible, but this isn’t always a viable option. If a child custody dispute escalates to the point where court hearings are necessary, some of the factors a judge may use to determine custody are:
- Any history of domestic violence in the family
- The child’s current living arrangement
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The ability of each parent to care for the child
- The parents’ relationship with each other and whether they can get along
- How much each parent has already contributed to raising the child
Types of Child Custody in Lincolnton, NC
Two general types of child custody are available under North Carolina law. The first is joint custody, meaning both parents will spend time with the child and can make decisions on the child’s behalf. This is the preferred type of custody agreement in North Carolina, assuming both parents can get along.
The other type of child custody is sole custody when one parent is solely responsible for raising a child, and the child does not spend time with the other parent. This type of custody agreement is rare, but it can happen when one parent is deemed unfit to take care of a child.
Within these two types of custody arrangements, there are two different kinds of custody. Legal custody refers to which parents are allowed to make crucial decisions for the child, such as where they will go to school, what medical care they receive, and so on.
Physical custody refers to which parent a child spends time with. To minimize the disruption in a child’s life after their parents split, the most common type of custody agreement is joint legal custody, with one parent having primary physical custody while the other parent has visitation rights.
Reaching a Child Custody Agreement
When possible, courts prefer couples to work out a child custody agreement themselves. However, this is not always possible, especially if the parents cannot agree on the child’s best interests.
To avoid a protracted court battle, the court will sometimes order feuding couples to attend mediation or counseling sessions so a neutral third party can help them resolve their differences. However, if all of these measures fail, the courts will hold a series of hearings to determine which parent will get custody of the child.
Once a child custody order has been handed down, it is challenging to alter, so be sure to get help from an attorney to protect your parental rights.
How Our Lawyers Can Help to Contest a Child Custody Case
Here are some of the ways a North Carolina child custody lawyer can help you with your case:
- Help you file for custody with the local family court
- Represent you at the various court hearings throughout the legal process
- Gather evidence to support your preferred custody arrangement
- Work out the details of a custody agreement, such as:
- Visitation schedules
- Ensuring your child’s medical, financial, and educational needs are met
- Minimizing the disruption in your child’s life after custody has been decided
- Setting ground rules for how you and the child’s other parents will interact with and contact one another
Child Custody FAQs
Here are some answers to common questions about child custody issues in North Carolina:
How do I get my child back from the non-custodial parent?
If the non-custodial parent has violated a court order, you can file a motion in court to have them held in contempt. The judge will decide the appropriate penalty based on the severity of the non-custodial parent’s actions.
How is visitation decided?
Courts make visitation decisions based on what’s best for the child. The goal is to minimize the disruption in the child’s life while still allowing the child to spend time with both parents. If one parent has shown that they are unfit to spend time with the child, they may be denied visitation or be required to have supervised visitation.
If I have custody of my children, can I move out of state with them?
It depends on the details of your custody order. If you have sole legal and physical custody, you can most likely move out of state without worrying about the other parent. If you have joint physical custody of your children, though, you will probably need to file a court motion before you can leave the state.
Does a criminal record affect child custody?
Having a criminal record might make it more difficult for you to secure custody of your child, depending on your situation. It does not automatically preclude you from seeking and getting custody, however.
How is child support calculated?
A child support order will consider each parent’s ability to pay, the current standard of living for the child and both parents, and other factors. A child custody lawyer can help evaluate your situation and help you understand what you might have to pay or what you might be entitled to receive.
How do I request a modification to child support?
You’ll need to file a motion with the courts to modify a child support order. A child custody lawyer can help you with this.
How much does a lawyer cost for child custody in Lincolnton, NC?
Some lawyers charge by the hour for child custody cases, while others charge a flat fee. In many cases, the cost of hiring a lawyer depends on the amount of work required. Be sure to ask about attorney’s fees during your initial consultation with your family lawyer.
Contact Our Experienced Lincolnton Child Custody Attorneys Today
At Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., our Lincolnton, NC, child custody lawyers understand how important your children are to you. We have extensive experience helping parents protect their rights to see their children, and we are ready to put our knowledge and skills to work for you.
While this process can be challenging, don’t despair. We are here to help, and together, we can work to find a resolution that allows your evolving family to move on to a better, brighter future. Get in touch now for a confidential consultation.