Smithfield Child Custody Lawyer

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Parents love their children and want them to thrive in a healthy and safe environment. However, this can be challenging when the family doesn’t live under the same roof.

Child custody may be contested between parents, and there may be hurdles when they do not agree on certain issues. When all you want is the best for your child, your best strategy to is to retain an experienced Smithfield child custody lawyer.

With years of experience and dedication to family law in Johnston County, NC, Smithfield family lawyer Jonathan Breeden can help with every aspect of your child custody case. Let us assist you to negotiate a favorable agreement with your child’s other parent, and aggressively fight to achieve your goals.

To learn more about how we can be an asset in your Smithfield custody case, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 300-7290 to schedule a consultation.

The court considers many factors when considering who gets custody of a child in North Carolina. Let an attorney explain how you can gain child custody rights.

Child Custody Johnston County

State law covers virtually every type of child custody scenario, whether the issues arise in a divorce or after paternity is established.

Types of Custody

There are two primary types of custody:

  1. Legal custody refers to the authority to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. If awarded this type of custody, you would be in charge of matters related to education, religion, medical care, extracurricular activities, and many other issues.
  2. Physical custody is tied to the child’s primary residence.

Both legal and physical custody can be either shared or held by one parent.

A parent with sole legal custody can make major decisions about the child without input from the other parent. If parents have joint legal custody, then they must consult one another to make major decisions, like where the child will attend school. However, if parents cannot agree, a court may have get involved to make the decision.

Joint & Sole Custody

You may share legal custody with the child’s other parent, giving you both a say in decision-making regarding your child. It’s possible for parents to have joint physical custody as well, but there may be significant disruption if the child spends too much time going back and forth.

Primary and secondary physical custody is the preferred arrangement for convenience purposes. In any event, the general approach is a custody plan that allows both parents to play a role in a child’s life.

Unless there is a history or threat of violence, criminal activity, or other misconduct by a parent, a Johnston County judge will typically not order sole custody. The law recognizes that a child’s needs are served best served when both parents are involved.

Emergency Child Custody Orders

An emergency custody order, sometimes called an “ex parte order,” is an immediate, short-term custody order by a judge in limited emergency situations, without hearing from the other party.

The grounds for issuing an emergency custody order in Johnston County involve circumstances in which a child is at serious risk of bodily injury, sexual abuse, or removal from North Carolina to avoid the court authority.

Law enforcement can assist in recovering a child with an emergency custody order. But if an emergency order is granted, a hearing must be scheduled within 10 days, so both parties can be heard. If you think you need emergency custody, you should consult an attorney right away.

For help determining the best custody arrangement for your family, contact a Smithfield child custody lawyer.

Determining Child Custody

State law encourages parents to agree on custody and visitation. Child custody lawyers can provide valuable advice during negotiations. A lawyer is also essential when it comes to drawing up a parenting plan and entering the required court orders. A judge is likely to approve any agreement that complies with the child’s best interests.

The court becomes involved when disputes over child custody arise. In accordance with state law, cases involving contested custody must go through Johnston County’s custody and visitation mediation program before a formal hearing.

Mediation is where both parents sit down with a mediator to discuss custody disputes. During the session, the trained mediator will identify the areas of disagreement and bring about productive conversations about them. Mediation can help you agree on child custody, even when you thought you’d never reach a compromise. The process is also less costly and intimidating than a court hearing.

If mediation isn’t productive and disputes remain, a hearing will be necessary. During this formal court proceeding, you and your child’s other parent present evidence and testify on your respective positions. Extensive knowledge of child custody statutes, evidence rules, unique Johnston County court procedures, and other complex legal concepts is crucial. Having a Smithfield child custody lawyer to represent you is critical to achieving your child custody goals.

A Child’s Best Interests in Custody Cases

Determinations on child custody and visitation must conform to the child’s best interests. The judge will review relevant factors in the event of disputes over child custody, but this legal benchmark is also a consideration if parents reach an agreement on issues regarding minor children. A court will apply the best interests standard to the proposed agreement, and will likely approve the arrangement if it complies with the law.

Johnston County District Court does not have an itemized list of what factors comprise the child’s best interests. Instead, judges look for guidance and apply judicial discretion when determining child custody.

Generally, five key elements may influence a court’s decisions regarding child custody. A Smithfield child custody lawyer review your situation and can help inform you on how the court will approach:

Your Child’s Preferences

Though this factor depends on age (it is taken into account when your son or daughter is over 12-years-old), the wishes of your child may impact the court’s decision. Judges may interview children to get a feel for how they feel about custody issues, usually in a confidential, out-of-court session.

Your Child’s Relationship with Both Parents

A judge will look to the quality of a child’s relationship with both parents, considering their comfort level and how much time they spend together. For this reason, it’s important to record the dates and times you dedicate to child care or activities that focus on your child. This information can go a long way in showing your commitment to having a healthy parent-child relationship.

Mental and Physical Health of the Parents

Mental health can be a key consideration in child custody cases if a parent suffers from depression, anxiety, anger management, or other conditions. It’s not likely to affect a reasonable visitation schedule, but a parent with emotional issues may not be suited to have custody. The physical health of both parents is less of a concern, but it may be a factor if a medical condition presents a safety risk to the child.

Parents’ Work Obligations

Mothers and fathers are expected to be reasonably available and around to support their child’s psychological and developmental needs. In connection with this factor, a judge will look at the amount of time a parent has to spend with the kids. If one person has an extremely busy work schedule, would primarily rely on others for child care, or travels a lot for work, custody may not be suitable.

Criminal Activity or Other Misconduct

Judges give a lot of weight to whether a parent has a criminal record or engages in other types of conduct that’s contrary to the child’s best interests. A history of drug or alcohol abuse may be a consideration, and any prior incidents or threats of violence would be a cause for concern.

Other Factors that Influence Custody Decisions

Though the specifics vary based on your situation, other factors that are important in custody cases include:

  • The child’s age as it relates to the level of care a parent must provide
  • The parent’s ability to support the child
  • The condition of the living environments in each home
  • Each parent’s ability to ensure a stable environment
  • The impact on a child’s education
  • The child’s medical and emotional needs
  • The child’s extracurricular activities
  • The number of children involved in the case
  • Whether the parents have other children
  • The distance between the homes of each parent

If you have concerns about how the above factors will affect your custody case, contact a Smithfield child custody lawyer right away.

Child Custody Issues in Johnston County

Due to the importance of the child’s best interests standard and other legal factors, it’s essential to work with a child custody attorney who has a solid knowledge of the local laws and district court procedures on child custody. Plus, you’ll need an advocate who has strong negotiation skills as you try to reach an agreement with your child’s other parent.

There are also other child custody matters that may arise depending on your circumstances. You should entrust important issues to custody attorneys, such as:

  • Visitation – Though it’s a separate legal arrangement, visitation is tied to legal and physical custody.
  • Relocation and Modifications of Child Custody – A child custody arrangement may need to be adjusted based on a change in circumstances, such as if one parent needs to move. Modifications to custody and relocation are technically illegal if you don’t obtain court approval because the new circumstances are contrary to a judge’s order.
  • Non-Parental and Non-Traditional Custody Matters –In some situations, a relative or another third party may be involved in a child custody case. Grandparents, siblings, stepparents, and other interested parties could have the standing to seek custody.

Child custody lawyers can also assist with:

  • Military child custody issues
  • Interstate custody for parents residing in different states
  • Child custody mediation
  • Same-sex custody matters

How an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer Can Help

No two custody cases are the same, and the laws regarding child custody are highly complex. Because emotion can also enter the picture during these personal family matters, it’s vital to retain a knowledgeable, compassionate child custody attorney to represent your interests.

Your ex may already have an attorney working for their interests, which means so should you. In addition, if your case is getting more complicated and may involve safety concerns or crossing jurisdictions, you may need an experienced professional to guide you. There are also some cases where parents just need help finding a mediation program to reach a mutually beneficial custody agreement. No matter, your specific circumstance, by working with a knowledgeable custody lawyer in Smithfield, you can ensure someone is looking out for your and your child’s interests.

Attorney Jonathan Breeden is dedicated to serving the needs of families in child custody cases, whether you’re working out an agreement or must go to court to resolve your differences. He has considerable experience fighting for the rights of parents in child custody matters.

Contact Breeden Law Office

To schedule a consultation of your case with a Smithfield child custody lawyer, contact Breeden Law Office today at (919) 300-7290.

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