Making a parenting plan outside of court

The first thing to decide is the type of custody you will have, and there are two main types. Physical custody determines with whom the children live. You may decide that you want primary physical custody, which means that your children will live with you most of the time. However, you may share physical custody with your estranged spouse so that your children live with both of you an equal amount, which is called joint physical custody.

Legal custody grants the power to make important decisions regarding your children. Primary legal custody means that only one of you has decision-making power, while joint legal custody means that you share it. If you do not think you can agree on every decision, you could split the decisions between you. For example, one of you may have the power to decide educational and health needs while the other decides religious aspects.

Some other decisions that need to be made in a parenting plan include with whom the children spend certain holidays and vacation time and how you will handle problems that arise in the future, such as one of you moving to a different city or state. While making these decisions, you must keep your children’s best interests in mind.

While it may be more beneficial to amicably agree to a parenting plan, you may not be able to achieve this. If this happens, the court has the power to decide based on the best interests of your children. You can learn more about what the best interests of children means by reading our page on child custody and visitation.

Changing a custody order in North Carolina

In order for a parent to have a child custody or visitation order modified there must have been a substantial change in circumstances that affects the best interests of the child. If such a substantial change exists, the parent may then file a motion for modification with the court that has jurisdiction over the child custody matter. The court with jurisdiction will normally be the court that issued the original order in the first place. Examples of substantial changes in circumstances may include such things as the arrest of a parent, abuse of the child, domestic violence that has occurred, a necessary relocation, a change in a child’s or a parent’s health or psychological status, or other such events that have a large impact on the child.

As in all matters involving questions of custody and visitation, the best interests of the child is the main consideration for a judge. In the event that a parent’s circumstances have changed to such a substantial degree that they believe a modification is needed, the parent may want to seek the advice of a family law attorney to learn more about their legal rights and obligations.

Family law attorneys may be able to provide help to the parent in these types of matters by drafting and filing motions for order modifications on their client’s behalf. Family law attorneys can also assist in helping the parent obtain documents and other evidence that may be used at a child custody hearing. In some cases, it is possible for an attorney to negotiate an agreement with the child’s other parent, while in others, the attorney may help by preparing the parent to testify in court at the child custody hearing and representing the parent during the child custody hearing.

Virtual visitation is possible child custody matters

Family courts in states that have not yet enacted any laws on this subject are ruling in favor of electronic communication as well. The general requirements for virtual visitations mandate that both parents consent to electronic visits and make reasonable provisions to see that the visits occur. It is also important for parents and children to be permitted unobstructed communication.

In this age of constant technological advances, there is some concern that electronically communicating with children may take the place of physical visits. The non-custodial parent is typically the parent requesting virtual visitations because, for example, their child may live in another area of the country making actual visits more difficult. Tools such as video conferencing and social media sites may allow parents and children to communicate more regularly. However, court systems throughout the country will most likely consider the best interests of the child when making decisions regarding virtual visitation arrangements.

A divorce lawyer who keeps up-to-date on state child custody laws may help families who are involved in custody disputes. It may be possible to take old custody cases back into court for modifications if a change in circumstances occur, and new child custody plans may include stipulations regarding electronic communication between parents and children.

Actor Gary Oldman facing another divorce

Mr. Oldman’s wife filed the petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Jan. 9, citing irreconcilable differences. Although the petition lists the date of separation as to be determined, a spokesman for Mr. Oldman stated that the couple has been separated for more than a year.

The petition indicates the couple’s community and separate property has not been determined and that an asset statement will be filed later. Mr. Oldman stated that the divorce will be an amicable one. He indicated the couple’s nearly 20-year age difference contributed to their marital breakdown. The couple do not have children, although Mr. Oldman has three children from his prior marriages. No response has been filed to the divorce petition.

Some people will end up going through several divorces in their lifetimes. No matter how many divorces a person has had, each one can pose strong emotions with which the person will have to wrestle. A spouse who is served with divorce papers will then have a limited time in which to respond to the petition. In a case in which a couple does not have children, the primary issues will be property division and, in some cases, spousal support. Determining the assets in a high asset divorce can be complicated, involving forensic accountants and investigators in some cases in order to locate hidden accounts. For that reason, family law attorneys will sometimes need to hire such financial experts in order to uncover assets that their clients may be entitled to.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Gary Oldman’s fourth wife files for divorce after yearlong separation”, Nardine Saad, Jan. 12, 2015

Actions to enforce alimony orders in North Carolina

There are some cases in North Carolina in which a person who was ordered to pay a former spouse alimony either falls delinquent or refuses to pay at all. In those cases, the law provides several remedies for the intended recipient to utilize in order to collect the amounts rightfully owed to them.

Upon notification of the delinquency or failure to pay alimony, the court may order the amount to be paid in a lump sum to the recipient. The court may also order the transfer of title of property to the recipient or place a lien against the payer’s real or personal property to secure payment. Payment of court-ordered alimony may be made by wage garnishment or bank levy.

Courts may find the payer to be in contempt of the court’s order and thus subject to the arrest and bail provisions under state law. The payee is also viewed as a creditor with all of the rights creditors have to seek and enforce a judgment against the delinquent or nonpaying party. The payee may notify the court through filing a motion for contempt in order to enforce the alimony award.

People who are ordered to pay alimony who need a change to the amount due to financial circumstances may file a motion with the court to seek an alimony modification. As the consequences for simply failing to pay or allowing delinquent amounts to accrue may be quite severe, those who are ordered to pay alimony should continue to do so until the court issues its decision regarding the modification request. Those who need such a modification may consider getting the help of a family law attorney as soon as their financial circumstances have changed.

Source: North Carolina General Assembly, “Chapter 50. Divorce and Alimony. “, December 31, 2014

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