Of all the family law matters, child custody is perhaps the most emotionally exhausting. After all, your children are your priority and you are driven to do right by them. This desire to avoid emotional damage may explain why some former spouses do not formalize their child custody arrangement and simply hope that co-parenting fares well.
However, without the benefit of a written document establishing custodial rights, parents have equal rights to the physical custody of their child, and, thus, neither parent is protected if one relocates to another part of the state with the child or makes another important decision with which the other disagrees. Therefore, agreeing upon and formalizing a child custody agreement cannot be stressed enough.
If a settlement is simply not plausible, a family court judge may hear the matter. In any event, a Raleigh child custody lawyer can help handle cases that call for conciliation as well as those that require tenacious representation in the courtroom.
North Carolina has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), Section 50A-201 that provides the following four bases for jurisdiction over child custody matters:
As a Raleigh child custody attorney can explain, there are certain restrictions on jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. For example, UCCJEA Section 50A-206 provides that a court must not exercise jurisdiction if there is a custody action pending in another state, provided the other state’s exercise of jurisdiction is consistent with UCCJEA requirements.
Additionally, a court has the discretion to refuse jurisdiction if the petitioner has participated in unjustifiable conduct (UCCJEA Section 50A-208), or if North Carolina is an inconvenient forum (UCCJEA Section 50A-207).
Courts seek to promote the interests and welfare of the child when determining child custody matters and there should be no presumption in favor of the mother or the father in that regard (NC Gen Stat § 50-13.2). In fact, courts must consider all relevant factors including acts of domestic violence between the parties, the safety of the child, and the safety of either party from domestic violence by the other party.
If, for example, a parent is convicted of a sexually violent offense, as defined in NC Gen Stat § 14-208.6(5), the conviction must be disclosed in the pleadings, and will be a factor that will likely weigh heavily against the parent.
The courts will undoubtedly weigh other factors, and will have broad discretion when doing so. If you are able to reach a child custody agreement with your former partner, that may allow the decision-making power to remain with you. If, however, the matter must go before a family court judge, then let a Raleigh child custody lawyer shed light on the process.
Most parents simply want what is best for their children. However, sometimes co-parents disagree on what that would be. Therefore, it is crucial to create a child custody agreement that addresses as many potential issues as possible.
An attorney can help guide you through the process. Contact a Raleigh child custody lawyer today for your free consultation and let them demonstrate how they can protect your children, as well as your relationship with them.