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North Carolina Family Law Blog

An overview of parental visitation rights in North Carolina

The North Carolina court system puts a lot of value on the rights of children during a divorce. This includes their right to have both parents involved in their lives. When it comes to parental visitation rights, children do not have a direct say in what happens, according to the North Carolina Bar Association. Older children’s requests may be considered but are not used to make a determination.

A parent not awarded custody of his or her children has the legal right to visitation with the children. The court does not have to decide visitation schedules. The parents can come to an agreement. However, if the parents cannot agree, the court will step in. Decisions are generally made by the court based upon work schedules, children’s schedules, where the parents live in relation to each other and the children’s ages. Any schedule for visitation needs to include regular weekdays and weekends along with special days, like birthdays, and holidays. Summer schedules should also be determined.

Dads: Don't do these 4 things if you are seeking custody

If you are a father in North Carolina, whether you are divorced or were never married to the mother of your child, you are likely facing an uphill battle if you are fighting for custody or visitation. Besides the challenges of trying to figure out a parenting plan with someone you may no longer like or trust, you might also feel like the legal system is working against you.

All of this can make the process of advocating for yourself and your family seem impossible or too frustrating. You might be tempted to give up or lash out against an unfair situation. However, these are both things you don't want to do if you want to establish or protect your legal rights as a parent in North Carolina. Below are four more things you should avoid as well.

Doing what's best for the kids in a divorce

Not many divorces end easily. There are almost always going to be intense discussions, even during many mediated divorces. Money is one of the most contentious issues facing a divorcing couple, naturally. But emotions probably run highest during a divorce when a child's future is being decided.

4 reasons why it's crucial to confirm paternity

Family units are no longer thought of as only those involving a mom, dad, two kids and a dog. We see families of all kinds, and children are raised in homes with one parent, co-parents, married parents, unmarried but committed parents and adoptive parents.

This diversity in family structure is something to celebrate, to be sure. But there are some added legal considerations that must be made when two people who are not married start a family. In these situations, it can be critical that at least one of the parents requests a paternity test.

This roller coaster isn't at a theme park

If you have children and you're from Raleigh, you've probably been to Frankie's Fun Park a time or two. If not Frankie's, then perhaps you've enjoyed outings to some of the other popular theme parks throughout North Carolina. Spending recreational time together as a family is adventurous, and helps stitch memories that become the patchwork of your lives.

If you've recently gone through divorce, however, the roller coaster you've been riding may not run on a track made of steel. This roller coaster is an emotional one that may have caught you and your children off-guard. You may have expected there to be challenges as you forge your way to a new lifestyle post-marriage - but, if your children have not adapted quite as you'd hoped they would, you may be left feeling as though you're on a non-stop loop-to-loop ride at a major amusement park.

Obtaining sole legal and physical custody of your child

There are many reasons why you may wish to obtain sole custody of your child. If you choose to pursue this type of child custody arrangement, it is important to prepare yourself for the possibility of a legal battle as the other parent may contest your request for sole custody. Seeking sole physical and legal custody can be a complex, emotional and difficult process in the North Carolina family law courts, but this may be a necessary step in order to secure a stable future for you and your children.

Understanding how courts determine "best interests of the child"

Parents typically want what is best for their children. However, in a divorce or separation, emotions sometimes cloud reason and judgment. This is why the courts have established dispassionate methods of making custody decisions. These methods fall under the heading of "best needs of the child."

North Carolina fathers' rights: Unwed dads fight for their kids

For many unwed fathers in North Carolina and elsewhere, gaining parental rights can be somewhat of a nightmare. Unfortunately, fathers' rights are not guaranteed when a child is conceived. In order for unwed dads to gain access to their children, parentage has to be legitimized in court.

A story was recently shared about a man in another state who had to fight for his child who was given up for adoption without his knowledge or consent. This individual met the mother of his child at their place of employment. When they first discovered she was pregnant, he was heavily involved in her doctor appointments and prenatal care. Toward the end of the pregnancy, however, the mother started distancing herself from him and did not inform him when she went into labor. It was only after the child was born and placed for adoption that the man found out about the baby's birth.

A custody plan that suits your unique needs

Divorce brings about many changes, but North Carolina parents understand the importance of providing their children with the opportunity to maintain a strong relationship with both parents. It can be difficult for two parents who are separating or soon-to-be divorced to agree on what is best for their children, but an experienced lawyer can help you understand how it is possible to protect your parental rights.

A child custody order should reflect the needs of the children, but it should also be manageable and workable for the parent. With the help of your attorney, you can pursue a co-parenting plan or child custody order that suits the unique needs of your family.

The 4 basic steps of a child custody case

Addressing custody matters can be a delicate subject. It is a challenging task for parents to work out agreements that suit the best interests of their children, but also fit their own needs and wishes as well. When it comes to child custody cases in North Carolina, there are four basic steps that parents must follow as they seek custody arrangements that cater to their family's needs. Those four steps will be discussed in this week's column.

The first step in any child custody case is filing an official petition --  also known as a custody complaint. This needs to be done regardless if one is going through a divorce or separation, if one is seeking a modification or if one is an unwed father wanting access to his children. With the assistance of legal counsel, this form can be properly filled out and filed in the correct county court.