Statesville Child Custody And Child Support Lawyer

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Where children will live and how they will be raised are often the most difficult issues to resolve when parents divorce. The one certainty is that life will change dramatically for everyone in your family. This makes understanding relevant North Carolina laws and setting clear, realistic goals as a loving mother or father absolutely critical. A Statesville child custody lawyer can help you understand these laws, determine how they apply to your family, and effectively advocate for your needs.

Griffin Law, PLLC: Your Legal Support in Child Custody Cases

It is often better for a family to negotiate a parenting plan and then submit the final agreement (consent order) to the court for approval. If parents are unable to reach a fair agreement, or if one parent is a danger to the children, the custody case will be litigated. An attorney can help to protect the interests and well-being of you and your children in either case. They can defend your needs in court or help you and your co-parent reach a beneficial custody arrangement.

At Griffin Law, PLLC, we bring you personal and compassionate legal care. We are aware of the impact of a child custody case on you and your family’s future, and we do not take this responsibility lightly. We target the ideal outcome and guide you through the legal process.

Understanding Parenting Time And Your Rights

If you are facing divorce with children in Iredell County, we encourage you to turn to us at Griffin Law, PLLC, for the legal guidance and advocacy you need. Experienced family lawyer Jonathan D. Griffin and our professional team will strive to ease the stress you feel and work diligently to protect your most important relationships.

North Carolina courts prioritize the best interest of the child above all other family concerns. Custody negotiations — and litigation if necessary — must be handled with this in mind.

We will provide experienced guidance to help you make decisions and set expectations for:

  • Physical custody, determining whether children will primarily live with one parent or divide their time on a near-equal basis between two homes
  • Legal custody, which involves access to information and whether parents will both have input into important decisions regarding children
  • Visitation (sometimes called parenting time) for a parent who will not have primary physical custody
  • Child support, which is determined by application of a formula but should be carefully projected as part of the planning process for life during separation and after divorce

Sole vs. Joint Custody in Statesville

There are two ways custody can be determined when parents are negotiating a parenting plan or the court is assigning custody. Physical and legal custody can be assigned as sole custody to one parent or joint custody to both parents.

  1. Joint Legal Custody: Both parents have the ability to make decisions about their children, including their healthcare procedures, their religious upbringing, and where they get an education. A parenting plan should determine how parents reach these decisions, what decisions can be made in advance, and how to resolve disagreements prior to taking the issue to court.
  2. Sole Legal Custody: Only one parent has the ability to make important decisions for their child. This usually occurs when one parent is found unfit to make childcare decisions. In some cases, the parent without legal custody has the right to know what decisions are being made, and in other cases, they do not.
  3. Joint Physical Custody: Parents have equal or near-equal parenting time with their children. There is an informal preference but no legal presumption for joint custody.
  4. Sole Physical Custody: This occurs when one parent has primary physical custody, and the child spends most of their time living with that parent. The other parent may have significant visitation rights. If a parent is considered a threat to the child’s safety, the court may allow limited or supervised visitation. The court may also remove visitation rights entirely.

Determining a Child’s Best Interests

Whether the family law court is creating a custody arrangement or approving a parent’s negotiated plan, it will prioritize the child’s interests. To decide what those interests are in a family’s unique situation, the court will determine what promotes the child’s welfare. The court may consider some of the following:

  1. The ability of each parent to provide care and support for their child and their child’s basic needs
  2. The safety of the child
  3. The health and unique needs of the child
  4. The child’s relationship with each of their parents
  5. The child’s wishes, if they are considered mature enough to express them (Under North Carolina law, there is no age at which the minor child gets to make a unilateral decision about where to live.)
  6. Which parent primarily cares for the child
  7. Any evidence of domestic violence between parents or against the child
  8. The living circumstances of each parent
  9. The mental and physical health of each parent
  10. The work schedules of each parent
  11. Any other relevant factors regarding the child’s welfare

The court assumes that both parents have an equal right to custody unless there are factors that show they are not fit for custody. A co-parent’s misconduct or shortcomings as a spouse or partner are only relevant in child custody cases if they impact their ability to care for their child.

If you believe your child should not be in the custody of your co-parent, it is important to discuss the situation with your attorney to determine the right way to handle the case.

North Carolina Child Support Guidelines And Calculations

Child support calculations in North Carolina are based on a specific formula that considers numerous factors, including the annual incomes of both parents, the number of days the child spends with each parent and related child care expenses such as medical expenses, health insurance coverage, extracurricular activities and day care costs, just to name a few.

Getting an idea of what your support obligation could look like or how much you could be awarded by a judge can help immensely when negotiating the terms of a child custody order. Our skilled family law attorney can walk you through the worksheets during a consultation or during the course of your divorce or separation. You may also view the worksheets on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.

FAQs:

Q: How Much Does It Cost to File for Custody in North Carolina?

A: The filing fee for custody in North Carolina is $150.00. If you file a divorce claim as part of an existing action (eg. Child Custody, Equitable Distribution) the fee is $75.00.

A child custody attorney may have an hourly rate that can range significantly, depending on the attorney’s experience and how contested your case is. If a parent filing for custody cannot afford legal services, the court could award them reasonable attorney’s fees.

Q: At What Age Will a Judge Listen to a Child in North Carolina?

A: While there is no set age, a judge may consider a child’s wishes in a North Carolina custody case. The judge is more likely to listen if the child is of a certain age and is considered to have reached an age of discretion. This means that the child seems to have good judgment and maturity levels. Only a child who is 18 years old or who is emancipated can decide where they live. Before that time, a child must follow a court-ordered parenting plan.

Q: Is North Carolina a 50-50 State for Child Custody?

A: The North Carolina court looks at the interests of a child when deciding child custody and does not have any set legal presumption for joint custody. However, many courts have an informal preference for joint custody and enabling a child to spend time with each of their parents. Joint custody is considered if either parent requests it, but the minor child’s best interest is always the guiding principle behind any custody decision.

Even if parents are awarded joint custody, a perfect 50-50 split is sometimes difficult due to practical constraints such as work schedules.

Q: How Is Child Custody Determined in North Carolina?

A: Child custody is determined in North Carolina based on the interests of the child. There are several factors that may be reviewed to determine what the child’s interests are. Some of these factors include:

  • Each parent’s capabilities for caring for and supporting their child
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s safety
  • The work schedules of each parent
  • Each parent’s living arrangements, their proximity, and their level of safety
  • The existence of any domestic violence
  • Any other factors that affect a child’s well-being

Divorce Or Problem Afterward? Schedule A Consultation To Learn Your Options.

In addition to full-service divorce representation, we file petitions for modifications of custody or support when parents must cope with a major change in circumstances. You can talk openly with Mr. Griffin about your options due to a job loss, health problem or proposed child relocation.

If you need a knowledgeable, dedicated attorney to advise and advocate for you as a parent, please call our office in Statesville at 704-873-5500, or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. We prioritize results, efficiency and cost-effectiveness in all we do, and we accept credit card payments for your convenience.

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