In North Carolina, trial court judges are vested with wide discretion in matters concerning child custody. This gives the court the authority to determine a child custody arrangement that best promotes the interest and welfare of the child. Judges are allowed to determine what type of custody schedule, including visitation, would suit the best interests of the minor child. Child custody cases are primarily about what is best for the child in determining a physical custody schedule and who has decision-making authority for the child and not so much about controlling every detail of the lives of the child and / or the parties involved.
In the Kanellos v. Kanellos matter heard before the NC Court of Appeals, the primary issue was whether the court could tell a parent where to live. In that case, the parents lived in Union County. Upon separation, mother moved to Forsyth County and father moved to Mecklenburg County. The court ordered that both parents share decision-making authority and granted mother primary physical custody with father having alternating weekend visitation. The court further ordered that it was in the best interests of the minor children that mother move back to Union County. The court, therefore, ordered mother to move to Union County with the minor children. Mother appealed arguing that the court abused its discretion in ordering her to move and that they lacked the authority to compel a parent to live in a specific county.
The Court of Appeals agreed with mother and held a court must determine the circumstances of the parties that exist at the time of the custody hearing. They may not, however, create a new option for the children by ordering a parent to relocate, even if they believe compelling a parent to relocate to a certain location would be in the best interests of the children. The court lacks the authority to order a parent to live in a certain place.
If you need to speak to a child custody attorney in Huntersville, NC in regarding to a relocation matter, contact Adkins Law to speak with an experienced child custody attorney.