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In this article, you will learn about:

  • What a parenting plan is and its benefits.
  • What happens in the event of a dispute in child custody.

What Generally Happens During The Separation Period Before a Divorce In North Carolina When It Comes To The Children? What Happens With Custody Or Visitation During That Period?

North Carolina does not require separated parents to obtain a parenting plan or custody order. If you do not obtain a custody order, both parents have equal rights to the children. This arrangement may work for some parents. However, it is rare during separation for parents not to have any parenting disputes, especially regarding the particulars of legal and physical custody, including a visitation schedule. Although parents may be able to work out an agreement on their own, it is strongly advised they seek independent legal counsel to make sure nothing important has been overlooked. On the other hand, if parenting is a contentious issue at the outset of separation, both parties are advised to hire their own attorneys immediately and attempt to work their differences out between their respective legal counsels. The attorneys can help draft an agreed-upon stipulated custody order with a well-planned visitation schedule that gives each partner a foundational agreement to fall back on in case disagreements arise. An effective visitation schedule involves two parents who are willing to be flexible in their parenting roles, diplomatically making decisions regarding their child/children with little or no conflict. This is best accomplished by focusing on the best interest of the child/children rather than on parental desires. The best interest of the child/children is the standard followed by the Court.

It is advisable to always have this kind of plan in place, but unfortunately, many parents don’t, and matters can become problematic as a result. Securing a contract that has a set of agreed upon stipulations in which to reference during a potential conflict can play a crucial role in the security of the child/children involved, and our firm highly recommends each of our clients work with their spouse to develop an effective plan without litigation if at all possible.

The same thing is true for any kind of child support. There are state guidelines that take a look at the number of nights a parent spends with their kids, each party’s total gross income, and if they are paying healthcare and daycare for the child. This is all documented by completing a form that is provided by the state and determines if one spouse needs to contribute more money than the other (and if so, exactly how much). The Court has the authority to adjust child support based on certain hardship conditions. A skillful lawyer that practices family law will be able to counsel their client as to the best steps to take in order to properly ensure the least traumatic transition for their child/children during the period of separation.

What Happens If My Spouse And I Can’t Agree On Custody Or Other Matters In Our Divorce Case?

If the parties can’t agree to a custody arrangement and visitation schedule through their lawyers, one (or both) of the parties would file for a contested hearing in Court, and from there it would be a judge’s decision. North Carolina does not have jury intervention in divorce or custody, so a judge would determine the outcome of your disagreement. One party would assert their proposed custody and visitation schedule to the Court through their attorney (or on their own, which is not advisable). From there, the other party would answer that with their own proposed custody and visitation schedule and then the Court would decide the most suitable course of action according to the best interest of the child/children involved. See North Carolina § 50-13.2. The Court may consider any factor pertaining to or affecting the welfare of the child/children. Also, there is no maternal favoritism in North Carolina.

The Court will consider all factors based on each party’s evidence and make its decision in accordance with what is in the best interest of the child. Having adept legal counsel on your side during this process will ensure that the best possible decision is made and may help the proceeding go smoother than going it alone.

For more information on Separation Period & Child Custody Issues, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling Dugger Law Firm, PLLC at (828) 884-5400 today.

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