Dealing with a child custody dispute can be an extremely emotional and difficult experience for you and your children. Unfortunately, your child has limited input on which parent should have custody. This can add additional stress to the situation if you are uninformed about the custody process.
Factors in Awarding Child Custody
In North Carolina child custody disputes, you have two main options: form a private agreement about custody (through mediation or private negotiation) or ask a judge to decide the custodial arrangement of a child. A family law attorney can help you navigate either process in a custody dispute.
When you go to court for child custody, the judge makes a decision based on the best interests of the child. Determining which custody arrangement and visitation rights are in the best interests of the child depends on many factors. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- The parents’ ability to care for the child
- Living arrangements
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The parents’ wishes
- The child’s needs, health, and age
- The child’s adjustment to the community and home
- Any history of domestic violence
Will the Judge Consider a Child’s Preference?
In North Carolina, a child cannot simply choose which parent should have custody. Generally the child’s preference for which parent to live with is not given a lot of weight in the custody process. This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but it’s based on the idea that many children are not mature enough to make this choice.
However, the court will consider a child’s opinion in some cases. The judge will decide whether to hear from the child about their wishes. While there is no magic age in which the court will consider the child’s opinion, most courts will determine if the child is mature enough usually around age 12.
Legal Help for Child Custody
As you can see, child custody is a complicated process. Parents may feel overwhelmed or helpless when dealing with a custody case. Children may feel the same. It will be very helpful to have a knowledgeable attorney’s advice and guidance during the process. An attorney can advise you about your rights and about how to provide the court with the most helpful information to consider. Reach out to a North Carolina family lawyer today for assistance.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
If you are dealing with a child custody dispute, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys are knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your legal rights and work hard toward your best outcome. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.