A Law Firm Advocating For You And Your Children
Divorce is difficult for all members of the family. But it can be especially hard on children, who may be caught in the middle of a process they didn’t want or choose. Unfortunately, child custody proceedings are often the most stressful and emotionally fraught matters in family law. Handling the process well requires the help of an experienced and compassionate attorney.
That’s exactly what you’ll find when you hire Lucas & Davis, P.A. Our attorneys have been helping clients resolve family law issues for decades, and we understand that outcome is not the only consideration that matters in child custody. A peaceful, civil process that protects children is also critical. Just as courts must make custody decisions in the best interests of children, we are committed to advocating for their well-being as strongly as we advocate for our clients.
The Two Types Of Child Custody
There are two types of custody to be awarded: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the authority to make important decisions about your child’s life and upbringing, including religious indoctrination, medical care and education. It is common for divorced parents to share legal custody.
Physical custody refers to where the child resides. One parent can have sole custody (while the other has visitation rights) or parents can have joint physical custody. Assignment of physical custody is what most people are referring to when they use the term “custody dispute.”
Child Custody Considerations In North Carolina
How do courts decide which parent will have physical custody (if it is not joint)? The overarching standard is to make decisions in the best interests of children. That requires weighing many considerations, including:
- Whether and how well each parent is able to care for the child
- Whether each parent can give the child a stable home and routine
- What the child’s current living arrangement is
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- Any concerns about the child’s safety
- Any evidence or recent parental history of drug use or domestic violence
North Carolina laws also allow grandparents and other significant third parties to petition for visitation rights if it can be shown that maintaining regular contact with these parties is in the best interests of children.
Parents Need To Try Mediation First
When custody is contested, North Carolina courts first want parents to attempt to settle the dispute through mediation (unless it needs to be waived due to allegations of drug abuse, domestic violence or similar concerns). If parents are able to negotiate a custody agreement on their own, it usually saves considerable time and money, makes the process less contentious and gives both parents much more control over the outcome.
We are ready to guide and represent you at all stages of the process, including mediation and litigation (if mediation is unsuccessful).