Child Custody & Support
Child Custody: Most families are concerned with the effects of the divorce on their children. There are many resources, including family therapists, that can assist with a smooth transition for the family, and especially the children. Many times, both parents are an intricate part of their children’s lives, but even if they aren’t, it is important to focus on what is best for the children now and in the future. This is a difficult process whether or not you have been married because children are so important.
No other single issue is more emotionally charged and important than matters concerning child custody. For many years, people have fought over the right to obtain custody over the children when a relationship or marriage takes a turn. The help of Easterling Family Law is necessary to protect your rights as a parent.
North Carolina follows the “best interests of the child(ren)” standard, whereby the court takes into account many factors to determine where the child(ren) should reside as their primary residence and which parent should make important decisions in the child(ren)’s life such as educational, religious, and medical decisions.
Factors taken into account for child custody:
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved.
- How the child adjusts to his/her environment in school, home, or the community.
- History of violence by either of the parents.
- The relationship between the child and each parent.
- The home environment each parent can provide for the child.
- The preferences of the child (normally only if the child is over the age of 13 and mature).
- The recommendation by an expert witness
- The wishes of the parents
This is a list of special considerations that should be taken into account, but doesn’t include all factors considered. Family law judges will weigh each of these factors, and many more, to determine what they believe is in the child’s best interest. Remember, this is not necessarily what either parent wants; it is what the judge believes is the best outcome for the child to have the best possible upbringing. Only an experienced child custody attorney can advise you as to what your personal situation means when applying these factors to your case.
CHILD CUSTODY – JOINT AND SOLE
Easterling Family Law can explain the details of exactly what the difference is between joint custody and sole custody — but here is a basic primer. In most cases, joint custody is based on the court’s belief that encouraging parents to work together for the best interests of the child is of utmost importance in developing a healthy relationship with both parents and the child, whereas an award of sole custody to one parent is because the court does not believe the parties can cooperate well enough to work together for the child.
Joint Custody: Joint legal custody is when both parents share equally in the decision-making for each child’s academic education, health care needs, religious education, and extracurricular activities. Joint physical custody means both parents spend an equal amount of time or approximately equal time living at each parent’s home in the day to day care of the child. Usually this arrangement means that the child spends an equal amount of time living at each parent’s home.
Sole custody: Sometimes, sole custody is necessary to protect the children from an abusive situation — usually from a parent that is physically abusive, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or has severe mental health problems and cannot safely care for his or her children. Even in cases where one parent has sole custody, the non-custodial parent often has visitation rights, and is still able to spend time with the children on a set schedule.
Easterling Family Law can help you determine how to best support your child financially.
The amount of child support is a calculation that was formulated to ensure that children were receive support from both of their parents. Establishing child support is an important part of the divorce or separation proceedings, and understanding your responsibilities and rights as a parent can help you to make smart choices for yourself and your children.
Families should estimate of how much money they have spent raising the child(ren) — from major expenses such as room and board, to little costs like school clothes, and school supplies. Most married couples split their parental duties, and it is not uncommon for one parent to know exactly how much all of these child-related things cost and for the other parent to be clueless about the actual cost to raise their child(ren). When both parents understand the costs of caring for a child, or for multiple children, conflict can be avoided. Because child support can be confusing, you need an experienced advocate like those at Easterling Family Law to help you navigate the confusing calculations of child support.