There are two types of child custody in North Carolina. There is physical custody and there is legal custody. Physical custody is the part which most people are familiar with: the actual physical custody of the child. In other words, the party the child resides with most of the time. This is the party that feeds the child, clothes the child, and may take the child to school. The party with the actual physical custody can be shared jointly with the other parent, or one party can be awarded primary physical custody, and the other party can be awarded visitation pursuant to a schedule.
Legal custody on the other hand concerns issues on how the child is raised. Legal custody involves the child’s religious upbringing, where the child goes to church, where the child attends school, and what types of extra-curricular activities the child participates in. Generally, the courts will give legal custody to both parents even if they give primary physical to one, and just visitation to another, because courts are under the impression that both parents need to be involved with the children’s legal custody as far as how they are raised. Many times judges like to split the physical custody between both parents if both are fit and proper. Unfortunately, sometimes that cannot be the answer.
Many times, you will have a parent that has moved to another state, or you will have a parent that lives far away in the same state which makes it impossible to have the child live half of the time with each parent. In cases like these a judge must give one party primary custody of the child, and the other parent visitation. In extreme cases, a judge may order supervised visitation. If one of the parents has an addiction, or has some kind of problems which would prevent that party from being alone with their child, then supervised visitation may be ordered.
What Sort Of Visitation Agreements Can Be Awarded Or Arranged?
Visitation agreements can be set up many ways as long as the agreements are legal. That is what is so great about mediation and mediation is always required in North Carolina child custody cases. Keep in mind that the child custody mediation required by statute is not the same as a private mediation. It is done through the state system. It does not cost any money out of pocket participate in this program, as a private mediation would in a divorce. There are only a couple of circumstances where the parties do not have to go through that mediation for child custody. One of those circumstances would be if there was a domestic violence issue.
Another reason for exemption from mediation are in cases where one of the litigants lives more than one-hundred miles from the courthouse, but it is free, and it allows parents to work through their agreement with the mediator. There are no attorneys allowed in the room. The attorneys have nothing to do with this. If both of the parties can come to an agreement a custody order is drawn up and signed by a judge.
At What Age Can A Child Decide Who He Or She Will Live With?
There is no age in North Carolina that a child is allowed to choose with whom they wish to live. In fact, it is a factor that a judge can use, but it is one of many factors, and is not binding. The only major factor in a child custody case is what the court deems to be in the best interests of the child.
That is why mediation is so important and powerful. If the parents cannot make a decision together for some reason, they are putting it into the hands of a judge.
For more information on Child Custody In North Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling us today.