Raleigh Attorneys Skilled in Child Custody Determinations
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, L.L.P. 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
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.
Under North Carolina law, both spouses are deemed co-parents with full legal custody rights. The courts encourage resolution of custody issues by agreement of the co-parents, deciding them only if no voluntary resolution is possible. In fact, state law requires that co-parents first submit their disputed issues to mediation before asking a court to hear the case. After hearing a contested case, a court will likely grant primary physical custody to one parent and secondary physical custody to the other. Joint physical custody may be awarded in appropriate circumstances. Other issues relating to the co-parents’ respective privileges and responsibilities are based upon what is in the children’s best interests.
Ensuring the best interests of the child in custody determinations
In deciding physical custody issues, a court takes into consideration several factors, including:
- Each parent’s fitness — The courts pay attention to the respective parents’ parenting skills and the reasonableness of their conduct, and 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 will be strong factor in granting physical custody.
- 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 grows older.
North Carolina law does not presume that mothers are better than fathers at promoting the best interests of the children. 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 is entitled to visitation — the right 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 state laws that govern child custody and with Raleigh local government, police and courts. Additionally, the convenience of hiring a local law firm can be an important time-saving advantage. If you retain us, we will meet with you to review the facts of your case for custody and your objectives. We will then advise and assist you in taking the optimal route to achieve them. We understand that you would not want your future relationship with your ex-spouse and children jeopardized by litigation. We will pursue all alternatives to a court hearing, including mediation and negotiation.
Contact a knowledgeable family law attorney in Raleigh
The experienced domestic relations attorneys at Hatch, Little & Bunn, L.L.P. can protect your rights to custody and visitation. Call 919-899-9827 or contact us online to schedule your consultation at our Raleigh office.