Raleigh Child Custody Attorneys Protect Your Child During Your Most Sensitive Challenges
Experienced North Carolina law firm protects co-parents’ rights
When couples divorce, decisions about 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 are at stake, it is crucial to seek counsel from an experienced child custody lawyer in Raleigh as soon as possible after you and your spouse decide to separate. Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP has helped parents work out solutions in these matters for more than 60 years and we are ready to work for you.
Deciding on the best custody arrangements for your children
A child custody dispute can arise as part of divorce proceedings or between parents who have never been married. In the latter situation, a court may have to determine the father’s paternity before deciding on custody or visitation.
Child custody consists of a number of rights and responsibilities that manage the caretaking relationship of parents and their children. There are two aspects of custody:
- Physical custody — This defines in whose household a child will live after the divorce, usually that of the primary caretaker but sometimes both homes on an alternating basis.
- Legal child 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.
While legal custody is generally shared, physical custody may be:
- Sole — This is an option if one parent cannot provide a suitable residence or if unsupervised contact with the parent is not in the child’s best interests.
- Joint— A sharing of residential parenting time is appropriate where both parents are equipped to be primary caregivers, they can provide a suitable residence for the child and the arrangement would be beneficial to the child.
A court may also grant primary physical custody to one parent and secondary physical custody to the other.
How custody is determined
The courts encourage resolution of custody issues by agreement of the parents, intervening only if they cannot reach a voluntary resolution. In fact, state law requires that parents first submit their disputed issues to mediation before a court hears the case. Mediation is a guided discussion that allows the parties to address their conflicts, exchange information and discuss co-parenting arrangements. If the parties do not agree in mediation, the case will decide all issues relating to the parents’ respective privileges and responsibilities, based upon what is in the children’s best interests.
Ensuring the best interests of the child in custody determinations
North Carolina law does not presume that either parent is better at promoting the best interests of the children. A court deciding physical custody issues considers several factors, including:
- Each parent’s fitness — The courts pay attention to the respective parents’ parenting skills and their reasonableness.
- Each parent’s relationship with the child — The court can consider which parent has been the child’s primary caretaker due to the other parent’s demanding work schedule or shortness of time spent with the child.
- Safety of the home — The court can consider all factors that affect a child’s safety. State law expressly identifies home safety and protection of children from acts of domestic violence as determining factors.
- The age of the child — The child’s preference can play a part in the custody decision, especially as the child grows older.
We are skilled at working out effective custody arrangements through negotiation, mediation or court proceedings, as necessary.
Creating sensible and workable visitation schedules
When a court grants primary custody to one parent, the secondary custodial parent can be entitled to spend time with the child. Typically, visitation is allowed at least once every two weeks, or more frequently by agreement or by court order. Grandparents may also sometimes be entitled to visitation. We apply our skills and experience to foster a visitation schedule that best serves the interests of our clients and their children.
How we can help guide you through this sensitive matter
We are well-versed in all North Carolina laws that govern child custody and with Raleigh courts. Additionally, the convenience of hiring a local law firm can be an important time-saving advantage. We meet with you to review the facts of your case for custody and your objectives. We then advise and assist you on the optimal route to achieve them. Since it’s generally best not to jeopardize your future relationship with your ex-spouse and children by litigation, we pursue all alternatives, including mediation and negotiation.
Contact a knowledgeable family law attorney in Raleigh
The experienced domestic relations attorneys at Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP can protect your rights to custody and visitation. Call 919-899-9827 or contact us online to schedule your consultation at our Raleigh office.