When a couple decides to end their relationship, oftentimes the biggest impact is to their children. Deciding what is best for the children can be an ever evolving challenge as the children’s needs, wants and desires can and will change as they grow older. Additionally, a parent’s ability to parent can change due to career obligations, family obligations, an uncooperative or hostile co-parent, or due to changes in school and home life which affect the children.
In North Carolina, the best interest of the minor child is the guideline the Court uses to determine what the custody and visitation schedule will be. Determining what is in the best interest of the minor child can be a complicated endeavor. While there used to be a preference for mothers, there is now no preference. The best interest of the children could be determined by which parent has the means and abilities to care for the children during a certain phase of the child’s life. This may change as the children grow older and more mature, and may need to be modified as life events affect the children and their parents.
In addition to the schedule of physical custody, the Court must also determine which parent, or both, is granted the right to make significant decisions about the children such as school selection, religious upbringing and medical treatment. These are not usually decisions which can be made at the last minute but which need careful consideration regarding the long-term impact on the children.
Mandatory Custody Mediation Program
Prior to a permanent child custody hearing, and in some cases prior to a temporary child custody hearing, the parents are required to attend court-ordered child custody mediation. There are certain circumstances in the custody mediation program is waived including when a party lives a significant distance from the mediation program or in situations where domestic violence or drug abuse are factors. The court-ordered mediation process first involves an Orientation Session and then the parties schedule mediation with a neutral third party who attempts to mediate the child custody dispute. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement during the mediation session(s), then their child custody matter is heard before a District Court Judge.
Call to schedule a Confidential Consultation about your Child Custody case
At the McNeil Law Firm, we take child custody matters very seriously as we know that the decision made in court or through a mediated agreement will have a lasting impact on parents and their children.
This website contains general information about common family law and criminal law matters in North Carolina. However, please remember that every criminal, traffic, divorce or family law case is different. Websites are no substitute for genuine legal advice from an attorney and the information here may not apply to your specific case.
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The information contained on this site is provided as a public service for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law. The reader is advised to check for changes to current law and to consult with a qualified attorney on any legal issue before taking action of any kind. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or to create or imply the formation of a lawyer-client relationship between the reader and this firm.