Child custody is a legal term that refers to the rights of parents (or another third party) regarding the care and supervision of a child. A child custody decision should always be based on what is in a child’s best interests, but the definition of “best interests” varies between cases and courts since every child and every situation is different.
Parents and courts can determine child custody in a number of ways, including:
- A mutual agreement between the parties that is not filed with the court
- A mutual agreement signed by a judge and filed with the court (known as a “consent order”)
- A decision made by a judge in the course of a lawsuit
At Myers Law Firm, we have experience advocating for clients in every setting where a child custody dispute might play out, and we can help you through each stage of the process.
Physical and Legal Child Custody
Many people don’t realize that there are actually two types of child custody: physical and legal. These types of custody can take many different forms.
- Physical custody involves the immediate physical care and supervision of a child. Essentially, this type of custody deals with the child’s physical location and which party they are with at the given moment. A party who has physical custody is generally allowed to make minor day-to-day decisions for the child. A physical custody arrangement can take many different forms — anything from occasional visitation by a party to equal parenting time.
- Legal custody is the right and/or responsibility to make decisions of important and long-lasting significance for a child’s well-being. North Carolina statutes don’t provide a definition for the term “legal custody," so a judge or the parties involved in an agreement can define what it means and what may be in a child’s best interests in a given situation.The rights covered by legal custody can include the right to make decisions on behalf of the child regarding education, health care, and religious issues. When the parties have joint legal custody, they must both cooperate to make these decisions. However, the nature of this cooperation can vary greatly. In some cases, they must make every decision jointly; in others, the custody arrangement can allocate certain decisions between the parties or provide that only one party makes the final decision.
How Courts in North Carolina Determine Initial Custody in Divorce
When a judge makes an initial custody determination during the course of a divorce or separation, he or she must determine what is in a child’s best interests. This means that the judge has to decide which party is best-suited to meet the child’s needs on a day-to-day basis and which environment will best promote a child’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual welfare. The law creates no presumption between parents, meaning that neither the mother nor father should receive any initial preference during this process.
At Myers Law Firm, we have an intimate understanding of the local courthouses and venues where your child custody case could unfold. When you choose our firm to represent you, we’ll put our years of family law experience to work on your behalf in order to protect your child’s well-being and fight for your parental rights.
Nothing is More Important than the Well-Being of Your Child
When you’re in need of an experienced child custody attorney in Mecklenburg County, you can take comfort knowing that you have the dedicated family law attorneys of Myers Law Firm, PLLC ready to advocate for you. Contact us today and let us help you ensure the best for your child.
To schedule your initial consultation, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us using our online contact form.