Written by Jonathan Breeden
Deciding to get a divorce can be very painful for a couple – separating and starting their lives over after the marriage ends is both difficult and important. A couple with children is faced with an especially arduous task of trying to keep the lives of their kids as stress-free and normal as possible.
Couples with minor children will need to discuss their custody options. Custody goes beyond just the physical aspect of deciding where and with whom the children will live. Parents need to consider legal custody as well, which determines which parent will make the decisions regarding the child’s well-being, such as school and medical decisions.
There are also different types of physical custody to examine. Often one parent is given primary custody, and his or her residence is where the minor children will live. The other parent may be awarded secondary custody, which gives that parent the right to visit the children. The secondary custodian’s visitation rights depend on several circumstances, and can allow this parent the opportunity to visit for a few hours or have the children spend the night at the parent’s home. Parents may decide on joint custody, which allows both parents to share physical custody and have their children spend an equal amount of time in each parent’s home.
After filing the initial custody complaint, at an initial custody hearing the Court will award temporary custody determining who the children will live with until the final decisions have been made. Temporary custody is, as the name implies, for a limited time, and is not awarded based on any prejudices of either parent. At the final hearing the judge will award permanent custody, which remains in effect forever, unless the court enters a new order at some point. New orders are generally not awarded unless there has been some sort of considerable change in the circumstances of the children’s lives.
A judge might order supervised visits for one parent; those visits are monitored, generally by a social worker or some other non-custodial parent. Supervised visits are often ordered for a parent who has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or is involved in activities that could present a harmful environment for the children. Rarely does a judge decide not to let a parent see his or her children at all.
A divorce can create a tense environment for a couple, and adding the issue of parental custody to the mix can only strengthen these volatile emotions. In some cases it’s best to work with a mediator, who can provide advice and guidance regarding custody issues. The mediator will help the parents reduce their stress and negative feelings by explaining all the custody choices and helping develop a plan the works best. The mediator, like the court, will always work to keep the best interest of the children in the forefront.
Parents with minor children considering divorce might be concerned about their custody options or worried that their children will be taken away from them. An experienced and compassionate North Carolina custody attorney can help put their minds at ease as well as navigate the court system to obtain the best possible outcome for their clients as well as their children. Contact Breeden Law Office today by calling (919) 661-4970. Attorney Jonathan Breeden is ready to listen and discuss how he can help with your family law matter.