As a parent, your child’s welfare is your top priority. If you’re going through a divorce and you’re worried that your child might be at risk of harm under the other parent’s supervision, you might want to shield your child from the other parent and get sole child custody on a temporary basis.
The laws that govern this type of situation can be confusing to parents, so we’ll try to clear them up for you. In this article, we’ll talk about how to get temporary or emergency custody of a child in North Carolina, and we’ll also discuss when sole custody is a long-term option.
When Can I Get Temporary or Emergency Custody of My Child in North Carolina?
During a divorce, most parents agree to an informal child custody arrangement before the final child custody hearing, when the court issues an order that determines custody from that point on. However, sometimes a parent’s behavior puts a child in danger or unfairly limits the other parent’s custody time.
In these circumstances, a judge in North Carolina might award temporary or emergency custody. While they sound similar, temporary child custody and emergency custody are actually different.
- Emergency custody: To get emergency custody, you must show that shared or joint custody would put your child at serious risk for injury, abuse, abduction, or removal from North Carolina. Getting emergency custody can be a complicated and contentious process. If you need emergency custody, it’s in your best interest to immediately contact a Charlotte child custody lawyer.
- Temporary parenting arrangement: While temporary custody procedures vary from county to county, Mecklenburg Count awards temporary custody through a temporary parenting arrangement. Your situation might qualify for temporary custody if there’s evidence the other parent is denying you access to your child, if there are legitimate mental health or substance abuse concerns, or if a parent is moving. Temporary parenting arrangements are also available when one parent goes on a military deployment.
Typically, the court will schedule a temporary custody hearing two to four weeks after you file a petition. These hearings tend to last about an hour.
You can also petition for emergency custody through a domestic violence protective order. However, such an order can only control custody or visitation for a temporary period of at most one year.
It’s important to understand that you should never simply take your child or deny the other parent access to your children unless you either have the support of a court order or you have serious, legitimate concerns about the safety of your child with the other parent. Abducting your child or refusing to share parenting time can lead to you losing custody or facing criminal charges, especially if you can’t prove there was an imminent danger to the child.
If you need help with an urgent child custody matter in Charlotte or Mecklenburg County, get in touch with us right away.
Will a Temporary Parenting Arrangement Affect My Right to Permanent Child Custody?
In Mecklenburg County, temporary parenting arrangements will generally control the custody arrangement until the final trial for permanent custody. When the judge finally creates the permanent order, they can make any alterations they want — they aren’t required to keep the same stipulations from the temporary agreement. If there was evidence of poor parenting decisions or other misconduct while the temporary parenting arrangement was in effect, your child custody lawyer should bring these issues up again at the final child custody hearing.
Understanding the Types of Child Custody
Before we address sole custody and the grounds of sole custody, it’s important to understand the two types of North Carolina child custody.
- Legal custody: The right to make important long-term life decisions for your child, such as directing their education, healthcare, and religious upbringing
- Physical custody: The right to supervise your child on a day-to-day basis and make routine decisions for them
Parents can have sole or joint custody of the child for both types of custody. Sole custody is when one parent has full control of legal custody, physical custody, or both; joint custody is when both parents share custody. Joint custody can take many forms and can range from one parent having primary custody (meaning the child is with that parent the majority of the time) and the other having secondary custody or the parents having a schedule that is almost equal. It’s not uncommon for one parent to have sole legal custody of the child while the parents have some sort of joint physical custody arrangement.
Ideally, you and your child’s other parent will negotiate a child custody agreement outside of court. However, this isn’t always possible. If you can’t come to an agreement, a judge will review your case and award custody based on the best interests of the child.
How Do I Get Sole Custody of My Child in North Carolina?
To get sole custody of a child, you must show that joint legal or physical custody is either impossible, impractical, or would put your child’s welfare at risk. While most people associate sole custody with contentious breakups or abusive situations, a court might also decide that sole custody is in a child’s best interests if one parent hasn’t played a role in the child’s life or hasn’t sought custody.
The court also has ways to address situations where one parent works irregular hours, travels frequently for work, lives out of state, or is otherwise unable to consistently parent and care for the child. In these cases, the judge may order a schedule that places the child with one parent the majority of the time. Meanwhile, the other parent gets visitation that works with that parent’s schedule or that minimizes the child missing school if travel is required.
Getting sole physical and legal custody can be difficult without help from an experienced child custody lawyer. If you have legitimate concerns about the other parent’s ability and willingness to care for your child, contact Myers Law Firm for a confidential case evaluation. We can help you understand your rights and talk you through your custody options.
Myers Law Firm: Advocates for Parents and Children in North Carolina
At Myers Law Firm, our goal is to protect both parents and children during a breakup or divorce. We work closely with our clients, taking time to understand their concerns, developing personalized legal strategies that meet their needs, and vigorously fighting for their rights.
While we pride ourselves in handling child custody issues peaceably and with compassion, we’re committed to protecting your rights and advocating for your child’s best interests above any other concern. To schedule your initial consultation, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or get in touch with us using our online contact form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.