Get Answers To Commonly Asked Questions About Child Custody

What criteria do judges use when they determine custody?

Do judges favor mothers over fathers in custody hearings?

Does shared custody affect child support?

Do I have to go through mediation?

What life changes justify a modification?

If my ex and I have agreed to change the terms of the custody arrangement, do we really need to get a court-ordered modification?

I am worried that my children are not safe under my ex's custody. What can I do to protect them?

Can I relocate with my children?

I am concerned that my child's divorce will affect my relationship with my grandchildren. What visitation rights do grandparents have in North Carolina?

What Criteria Do Judges Use When They Determine Custody?

North Carolina judges are guided by the "best interest of the child" standard when they assign parental responsibilities. Many factors determine whether a custody agreement supports children affected by divorce and eases the transition to life after divorce. Judges often consider the status quo of the child. Judges may take these points, among others, into consideration:

  1. Does the agreement encourage stability in the child's life?
  2. Will the agreement promote the child's physical, emotional, mental and educational needs?
  3. Does the custodial parent have a history of substance abuse or domestic violence?
  4. Will the custody agreement foster a network of support for the child?

Do Judges Favor Mothers Over Fathers In Custody Hearings?

No. The courts believe both parents should be a part of their child's life. The courts study each family's circumstances before ruling on custody arrangements. In certain situations, such as with military families, a service member's military obligations may affect his or her ability to care for a child. If deployment is a possibility, judges will take that into account.

At Hardin Law Firm PLLC, we can help you understand your parenting rights so you know what is possible and what is realistic in terms of custody and visitation.

Does Shared Custody Affect Child Support?

Yes, it can. For the most part, two worksheets for calculating child support are used: worksheet A — sole custody and worksheet B — shared custody. If you have custody for your child for 123 or more overnights in year, you will use worksheet B, which will result in lower child support payments than worksheet A.

Do I Have To Go Through Mediation?

North Carolina laws require parents to participate in mediation before they can litigate permanent child custody matters. You will meet with a third-party mediator who is not a lawyer.

You should have an attorney review your custody agreement before you sign it. Retaining an attorney to spot problematic conditions in your custody arrangement can save you time and money down the road.

What Life Changes Justify A Modification?

North Carolina courts allow parents to petition to change or enforce existing custody orders. When life-changing circumstances arise, the terms of a custody order can be modified to serve the best interests of the child. These circumstances may include a decline in the parent-child relationship, a change in a parent's work schedule, a relocation or unsafe living conditions.

If My Ex And I Have Agreed To Change The Terms Of The Custody Arrangement, Do We Really Need To Get A Court-Ordered Modification?

Yes. While you and your former spouse may agree to adapt your parenting duties to suit a new schedule, any agreement you make is not enforceable. If your spouse decides to ignore these revisions, the court order is still binding.

I Am Worried That My Children Are Not Safe Under My Ex's Custody. What Can I Do To Protect Them?

If you believe that your former spouse has a substance abuse problem, is abusing your children or is engaging in other activities that may harm your children, you can file a petition for an emergency custody modification. Depending on the circumstances, law enforcement and/or the Department of Social Services should also be contacted.

Can I Relocate With My Children?

Relocation can be difficult. If your ex objects to the relocation, you will have to prove to a judge that this move is in the best interests of the child. Judges have a great deal of discretion in child custody matters, and no one can guarantee that your judge will allow you to move. Hiring a lawyer who is familiar with the previous rulings of area judges can help you establish an argument that supports their interpretation of North Carolina's relocation guidelines.

I Am Concerned That My Child's Divorce Will Affect My Relationship With My Grandchildren. What Visitation Rights Do Grandparents Have In North Carolina?

Grandparents should not be left out of the picture in the wake of a divorce. If you are a grandparent with concerns about your role in your grandchild's life, we can help you explore your options.

For More Information About Child Custody In North Carolina

Our Fayetteville office is centrally located for our Cumberland County clients. We are eager to help you protect your child custody rights. Please arrange an appointment online or over the phone at 910-849-2356. Together, we can find solutions for a range of custody concerns.