When parents separate, decisions involving their children must be made. With whom will the children reside? Where will they attend school? How will holiday and summer vacation time be shared? Often parents are able to agree on these topics. Agreements regarding these issues can and should be reduced to a legally enforceable format. Some parents choose to address these issues in their Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. Others request that their agreements be submitted to the Court for approval in the form of a Consent Order. Having a legally enforceable agreement is important when future disputes over the children surface.
Some parents cannot agree on how to resolve issues involving their children. When parents cannot agree, one or both parents have the right to submit their dispute for resolution by the Court. In North Carolina, child custody disputes are resolved by a judge.
The paramount consideration in any custody dispute is the “best interests” of the child. The children’s interests take precedence over the wishes and desires of the parents. In a typical custody case, a court will decide with which parent the children will reside and will create a schedule of visitation for the non-custodial parent. Sometimes safety issues surface that must be addressed. The court may impose restrictions on a parent’s contact with his or her children if the court perceives said conditions and/or restrictions to be in the children’s best interests. Given the important issues involved, child custody disputes can be the most highly contested cases. The outcome of a contested custody case can have long lasting impact.
For more information regarding North Carolina law as it pertains to custody issues, please contact us to schedule a consultation.