Child Custody Attorney in Greensboro, N.C.
Issues of child custody are often very sensitive and filled with emotion. Children cannot be divided like property or debt and their health and well-being, above all other concerns, are most likely the parents’ chief priority.
Our experienced child custody attorneys in Greensboro, NC, can help you negotiate favorable custody agreements through mediation or litigate as tenaciously as necessary in court. Either way, we’re committed to devising creative and practical solutions tailored to your family’s needs.
We offer judicious, compassionate counsel, empathizing with your situation and employing a child-centered approach to every custody case. We know child custody issues can be complex, so we’ve provided answers to some of your most pressing questions below.
Who has the right to custody of the child?
Until there is a written agreement or court order in place, both parents have equal rights to custody of the child and can physically take the child as they wish. When a court is involved in making the decision as to who has custody of the child, it is guided by the “best interests” of the child standard. Under current law there is no preference given to the mother or father in custody decisions, but the courts will take a wide range of factors into account, including:
- The mother and father’s fitness to parent
- The parents’ lifestyle and social behaviors
- The emotional bond between child and parent
- The parents’ ability to provide the child with basic necessities
- The child’s established routine (including education, religious institutions, neighborhood life and peer groups)
- The parents’ ability to meet the child’s physical mental, emotional, moral and spiritual needs
The court will consider testimony from a number of witnesses like family members, teachers, child custody evaluators, and psychologists, who can personally speak to any of the above factors. Children themselves provide testimony in very limited cases and most parents find it wise to keep the children protected from the ongoing conflict in and out of court.
What is joint custody?
There are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the physical care and supervision of the children: generally, how parents share the children’s time. Unlike a sole physical custody arrangement in which a child resides with one parent and visits the other, joint physical custody is when a child shares substantial time with both parents, who are then equally responsible for his or her physical care and well being.
Legal custody typically refers to the parents’ right and responsibility to make major decisions regarding a child’s welfare, including his/her education, medical care, discipline and religious instruction. In a joint legal custody agreement, parents must communicate with each other and share in the decision-making process. You may arrange either joint physical or joint legal custody or both.
Joint custody may be requested by either parent and is an appealing option when both parties are flexible, amicable and willing to co-parent in order to best meet their children’s needs.
Can a custody agreement be modified?
Custody and visitation orders are never written in stone. Either party can move to modify a permanent custody order, but the party must show that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances affecting the best interests of the child.
Do child custody issues have to be resolved in court?
Because North Carolina law emphasizes the “best interests of the child” in child custody cases, most parties are required to participate in mediation before proceeding to trial. Mediation offers a structured, non-adversarial environment, which fosters communication and collaboration between the parties. Mediation is often preferable to judicially determined custody orders for a number of reasons, including:
- Privacy: Mediation allows for private settlement rather than a public airing in court.
- Cost: Because mediation usually involves a court-appointed third-party mediator instead of lawyers, it is far more economical than litigation.
- Efficiency: Mediation often produces mutually agreed upon custody arrangements in a relatively short timeframe, while court cases may drag on for months or even years.
- Comfort: Because mediation fosters an environment of respect, civility and cooperation, it is much less emotionally exacting than court proceedings.
- Communication: Mediation encourages the parties to work together and communicate with each other, which often results in an arrangement much better suited to their family’s individual needs than any order a judge may devise. Moreover, parents who learn to communicate with each other are much better equipped to raise their children in two separate households.
If, however, the parents are simply unable to come to an agreement, the case will go to trial and a judge will make a custody determination at his/her discretion.
Your Child Custody Attorney in Greensboro, N.C.
If you’re dealing with child custody issues, you don’t have to go it alone. Contact Ward Black Law today! Our child custody attorneys in Greensboro, N.C. have the experience and skill to favorably resolve your custody issues. We will advocate for you and your children. You can reach us at (336) 333-2244, or toll-free: 1-877-256-1214. You may also reach Ward Black Law by email or online inquiry.
For directions to Ward Black Law, visit our Contact Us page.