Often times, when parents separate, they are able to agree to a parenting arrangement that is in their child’s best interests and works well for the parents. In many cases, flexible schedules between the parents work well without conflict until the child is an adult. This is, however, not always the case.
In situations where parents cannot agree to the custody schedule, they need a child custody order. A child custody order sets out the plan for making decisions for the minor child and for determining when and where the child spends time with each parent. For parents who conflict with each other, this is an absolute necessity.
To obtain a child custody order, a parent must file an action with the court for child custody. After filing the action, the other party must be served with the lawsuit and afforded the opportunity to respond. In custody actions, after filing, the parents are almost always required to attend a court ordered mediation in the hopes of resolving their differences and working out a custody schedule. Attorneys may be but are often not included in these mediations. If resolution is reached in mediation, an order dictating the custody arrangement and schedule will be issued by a judge, which resolves the matter.
In the event that the parties are unable to come to an agreement during mediation, and are unable to negotiate their custody schedule, they require a judge to determine their parenting schedule and end up in litigation. In litigation, the parties become adversaries and lose their ability to control and determine their parenting arrangement through negotiation. The conflict is resolved by the judge upon the presentation of evidence to determine what parenting arrangement is in the best interests of the minor child.
The primary issues to be determined by the judge are legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody concerns decision-making for the minor child. Where the child goes to school, the doctor, therapy, dentist, for example, include matters of legal custody. Physical custody, on the other hand, concerns where the child spends the night and how much time each parent is going to spend with the minor child.
Once a child custody order is issued, it is enforceable by the court through the power of contempt. What does this mean? Basically, in a nutshell, if a party violates the custody order, the court has the power to punish the violating party. The court may have a number of options in punishing the offending party including fines, probation, jail time, and attorney’s fees.
If you need to speak with a family law attorney concerning child custody issues, please contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.
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In North Carolina, when you separate from your child’s other parent, there are a lot of things to consider and plan for. In most cases, it is best to have a consent order entered as to your child custody arrangement, and any child support obligations. A custody order is required to enforce any agreements as to child custody.
In North Carolina, there are two kinds of child custody: legal child custody, and physical child custody. Legal child custody concerns decision making, and what parent is making such decisions as to where the minor child is attending school, what doctor and dental treatments the minor child will have, what religious practices the child will adhere to, and what extracurricular activities and events the child will participate in. Physical custody, on the other hand, concerns what parenting time each parent will spend with the minor children.
Most cases involving child custody are resolved by direct negotiations with the opposing party, and the remainder are resolved through the process of mediation. Most jurisdictions require the parties to attend a mandatory mediation before they may present their child custody case in front of a judge. Mediation is often successful as it gives the parties the ability to maintain a sense of control in resolving and settling their matter. In the event your spouse or partner is unreasonable, and unwilling to settle, your case may be forced into litigation, where the judge determines a child custody arrangement dependent upon the best interests of the minor child.
If you need to speak with a child custody attorney regarding a child custody matter, please contact Adkins Law. We are located in Huntersville NC and are happy to be of service.
In North Carolina, the goal of child support is ensure that the child is receiving the same proportion of their parents’ income as they would if they lived together. This is determined by a formula through the North Carolina Support Guidelines, which are designed to meet the needs of the child while being fair to both parents. The child support order will dictate the amount of money the non- custodial parent must pay.
How is the support computed?
Calculating child support requires determining the parents’ total gross income and calculating the percentage that each parent contributes to the total. The court may also consider overtime pay, bonuses, self- employment and other biological or adopted children. Step- children are not considered in the calculation.
It is important to remember child support has priority over all other financial obligations, and in addition to setting child support, the order may require one or both parents to provide health insurance coverage for the children.
How does the process work?
The non- custodial parent will be served with a Civil Summons and Complaint. They can respond to the document by filing an answer, providing financial information to the child support office prior to the hearing date and signing a voluntary support order, appearing at a hearing, or getting an attorney who will assist in responding to the Complaint.
If the non- custodial parent does not respond to the Compliant, the court may enter a default offer. This means the court takes everything the custodial parent says to be true, and enters an order based on that information.
Coming to an agreement between the parties is always preferred, and if both parents are able to find a solution that they can agree on then a court hearing is not required.
Contact Adkins Law today to set up a consultation and discuss the best way to move forward in your Child Support case.
Undeniably, many families in the US experience serious domestic problems that often necessitate legal interventions. Just like other states of the US, North Carolina (NC) too has its unique laws, under the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS), that govern all the family matters and that are applicable across its respective regions including Mecklenburg County and all the regions within such counties such as Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville in Mecklenburg County. As such, it is crucial for all persons residing within NC, particularly in Mecklenburg County to know the fundamentals of family law in NC likely to affect them such as separation and divorce, alimony, child support, and child custody.
Noteworthy, separation and divorce (NCGS § 50) are two different concepts under North Carolina’s family law statutes. A legal separation does not end one’s marriage. Instead, a legal separation lets the parties remain married but live separately. Marital misconduct may come into play here if a party wants to file an action for a forced legal separation. However, for an action for a forced legal separation (divorce from bed and board) to succeed, the complainant must provide evidence establishing that the spouse was at fault including cruelty, adultery, and indignities, etc.
Significantly, although one can legally separate at whatever time, the parties must have been physically separated for a minimum period of one (1) year to succeed in a no-fault divorce. As such, one must meet the legal definition of “separation” to file a divorce case. Merely living in different rooms of the same house or living in separate houses but maintaining the appearance of a relationship does not qualify as a legal separation under the state’s law. If the couple reconciles, the separation period terminates. Additionally, another option other than separation exists, though rarely pursued. Here, the law allows a partner to file for divorce after being lawfully separated for three (3) years and believes that the other partner suffers from untreatable lunacy.
Alimony, child support, and child custody are also NC family law issues. According to NCGS § 50-16.3A, alimony is the act of paying for the upkeep and maintenance of a partner, either through a lump-sum or on an ongoing basis provided by the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse. In Mecklenburg County, forinstance, the general rule is that a dependent spouse is the one earning less income, though the NCGS contains sixteen factors (NCGS § 50-16.3A) that guide the court in making such a determination. When it comes to child custody in NC, the most common reference usually made is “the best interest of the child.” Here, the judge (not a jury) hears the evidence presented before the court and decides how the parents, either jointly or individually, will share time with the children and make decisions impacting the lives of the children.
Often, the court appoints joint physical custody of the children to the parents. Sometimes the court will award one parent as having main physical custody while the other having ancillary physical custody accompanied with a visitation schedule. One parent is usually ordered to pay the other parent child support. Such support is usually assessed using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, especially if the combined yearly income of the two prior to taxation amounts to $300,00.00 or less (though also dependent on the custodial schedule), and such a support lasts until the child turns 18 years and graduates high school, or the child is lawfully emancipated. If you need to speak with an experienced family law attorney, contact Adkins Law.
By: Jacqueline Keenan
How was custody established?
The first step in changing child custody is knowing how it was established. If you and your ex are working off of a separation agreement or something that you decided outside of court, then one person needs to request the change. This should be done in writing, but because it is not a court order, it is up to the other party to decide whether or not they are willing to make a change. If that fails, then it may be time to bring the issue to court and have it put in a court order.
If custody is determined through a court order, then the decision to make a change to a custody arrangement rests with the judge. The judge will decide if there is a substantial and material change in circumstances, and if so they may modify the order.
Substantial and Material Change
In determining child custody, the goal of the court is always to look out for the best interest of the child, regardless of what the parents may want. So, when a judge is asked to change an order that has already established what serves the best interest of the child, they will need a very good reason. Because of this, the judge will look at what has changed since the original order was written. If they find a change that is both substantial and material, then they may be persuaded to make a change.
Substantial and material change can include one parent losing a job or moving out of state. A new marriage or relationship that is having an effect on a child’s life may also be considered.
Modifying child custody can be a complicated process. If you are interested in making a change to your custody agreement or order, contact Adkins Law to set up a consultation and decide your next steps.
I’m the Father?!
For a couple who has been trying to get pregnant, the sentence “you’re the father” will often be received as exciting news. But for all of the frat boys, famous rappers, and casual daters of the world, this may be your worst nightmare. So, what do you do if a paternity action is brought against you?
What is a paternity action?
A paternity action is a legal suit that is used to establish the paternity of a child that can be brought by the mother or a state agency if the mother is receiving state financial assistance. In this proceeding, the judge will hear evidence as to why the mother believes that you are the father of her child and will often order genetic testing. This testing will be done by a laboratory chosen by the court. If the genetic match is 97% or higher, you are the father!
What does it mean to be the legal father?
Establishing legal paternity comes with several obligations and benefits, including paying child support, and having the right to visit with your child.
What should my next steps be?
If a paternity action is brought against you, you will have the opportunity to file an answer with the court stating why you believe you are not the father. You should contact Adkins Law ASAP to set up a consult to help you through this process.
Domestic violence is far more common than we know. It is a problem that affects people regardless of race, gender, sexuality or socioeconomic status. If you or someone you love is being abused, it is important to come forward to seek help.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is causing, or attempting to cause, bodily injury to the victim. It can also be placing the victim in fear of imminent, serious bodily injury. This may include continued harassment if it causes severe emotional distress.
It is important to remember that domestic violence can only occur between people who have a current or former relationship. This includes spouses, household members, parent/ child or boyfriend/ girlfriend.
What to do if you are a victim of domestic violence
Your safety is the biggest priority—get yourself to safety and call 911. If you do not have a safe place, you can seek help at a shelter.
From there, you have the option of seeking a restraining order and/ or filing criminal charges. Criminal charges are recommended because the criminal system has some procedures in place that the civil system does not, like probation and violent offender programs. If the abuser is found guilty at trial, then the terms and conditions of his or her sentence depend on various factors including what crimes the abuser has committed against you and prior offenses
How does domestic violence effect custody and child support?
It is rare for those issues to be handled in the civil domestic violence process of getting a restraining order. Many judges prefer that issues of child support and custody be handled in a separate action. You will need to file a separate complaint seeking custody and child support.
What about alimony and property division?
The judge in your domestic violence can only deal with these issues on a very limited basis, such as addressing temporary distribution of vehicles and the home. Many judges prefer that these issues be handled in a separate action. You will need to file a separate complaint alimony and equitable division.
Domestic violence proceedings can be confusing and time consuming, especially when dealing with other family law issues. Contact Adkins Law today to set up a consultation and decide your next steps.