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Supervised Visitation and Safe Custody Exchanges

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

When family courts enter custody and visitation orders, they do so based on what is in the best interest of the children. This is an open concept that can encompass many different considerations. Sometimes, courts end up hearing evidence that concerns them to the extent that they limit a parent’s custody or visitation. This may include evidence of domestic violence, a criminal activity, substance abuse, child neglect, emotional abuse of a child, or physical abuse of a child. In other words, if the court feels that a parent poses some physical or emotional risk to the child or the other parent, then a court will make decisions it feels necessary to protect them. However, it must also balance the underlying public policy that children should spent time with both parents. …

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Can My Parental Rights Be Terminated?

In Child Custody by Carly Baker

A lot of our lives revolve around our children. They represent our plans, our hopes, and the future of our families. In fact, parental rights are a fundamental right that have constitutional magnitude. Unfortunately, these rights are not absolute, and there are ways that a parent can fail a child to an extent that opens their parental rights to limitations and even termination of those rights. Termination of parental rights proceedings are very serious and can result in the permanent severance of the parent-child relationship. Therefore, termination is unusual, and courts treat it as an option of last resort. Who Can Seek Termination of Parental Rights? There are numerous people or entities that can seek termination of a parent’s right. Terminations most commonly occur in the context of child abuse …

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Teenagers and Child Custody

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

Working through the realities of child custody is challenging for any parent. Even with the most thoughtful, well-intentioned parenting plan agreement or child custody order, and co-parents who communicate well, our life circumstances evolve and our children age. In fact, as children of separated parents become teenagers, new custody challenges can arise that will challenge the best of us. Teenagers Have Their Own Lives A natural part of children’s development is that they are less and less dependent as they grow up. Long gone are the days when they were super-attached and always wanted to be around you. Now they have their friends, they start to date, they have school, they have extracurricular activities, and they have hobbies. In other words they are increasingly busy. Because of their social lives, …

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Nasty Custody Disputes: What Not to Do

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Disputes over child custody can get highly contested when parents aren’t able to reach agreements. This is unfortunate as everyone involved—especially the children—are experiencing their own unique trauma and have to learn on the fly how to cope. But as experienced family law attorneys, we see the anger, desperation, and poor decision making that can arise in the context of child custody, along with the horrendous consequences. We therefore urge our clients to avoid the following actions at all costs. Don’t Resort to Harassment, Stalking, or Violence Harassment, stalking, or violence have never resulted in a positive outcome for the person responsible. In fact, it is terrifying at best and deadly at its worst. If you resort to any of these actions, then you can count on three legal outcomes: …

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Preparing to Testify in Court

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

When it comes to the legal issues that surround a divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support, it is far more common for people to reach agreements than to take these issues to trial. This is because trial is risky and expensive, and people are generally more inclined to avoid that risk and try to settle on an arrangement they can control. Having said that, however, there are times when it is necessary to take issues before a judge. Therefore, it is important to have some idea of what to expect if you have to testify in court. Come Prepared The best way to testify with confidence is to know what you’re talking about. This means to spend a good amount of time preparing for court. …

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Fatherhood and Leading by Example

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

    Children learn to socialize, cope, develop relationships, and navigate life based on their observations of the adults in their lives. Amongst the strongest influences in helping children develop into healthy, well-adjusted adults are their parents. This is why as a father, it is so important to approach parenting in a thoughtful, consistent manner. A critical part of this equation is to truly understand that you lead your children with both your words and your actions. In essence, you can positively lead by example when your actions match your words. Healthy Relationships  Children often mimic their parents’ mannerisms in the context of what they see between adults. Just watch them interact with their friends or at the playground, and you may notice them using some very familiar words and …

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What Might Your Visitation Schedule Look Like?

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

When you separate from your children’s other parent, you all enter into a new and unfamiliar world of custody and visitation schedules. It is an adjustment for everyone, as parents want to maximize their time with their kids but are now limited in doing so. The children can also struggle with the adjustment of seeing each parent less and often having to spend nights in different homes. If you are in this difficult process, it is important to be prepared—not only for your own sake but also for your children’s. How Custody Schedules Come About Parents can reach a legally binding agreement regarding custody or visitation with their children, or if they cannot agree, they can file a lawsuit to ask a judge to make a determination regarding custody and …

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Transitioning the Kids Back to School

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

The end of the Summer is a bittersweet time for parents. On some level, you’re ready to resume the consistency and structure of the school year; while simultaneously feeling like your time with the kids is about to become much more limited. Children experience similar internal conflicts, where they are nervous about new teachers and sad about the lack of freedom, while also excited to see their friends again. Fortunately, your children have you to help guide them into the new school year. With a thoughtful approach, you can definitely put them in a position to hit the ground running toward a productive school year. Transition your children’s internal clocks back to school hours. Children tend to stay up later and wake up later during the summer. Start enforcing an …

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What to Bring to Your Initial Consultation

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Beyond the emotional toll that comes with a separation or a dispute over child custody, there is the practical aspect of reaching a legal and enforceable resolution that will help you move forward with your life. In reaching this resolution, many people find it critical to retain the services of an attorney for advice, for information, and for advocacy. It really does you no harm to at least consult with an attorney. In fact, failing to utilize an attorney regarding property division, alimony, or child custody can be detrimental to your financial future or even your parent-child relationship. This is due to the risks of missed deadlines, waiving legal rights, and getting taken advantage of by your spouse’s attorney. What to Bring to Your Initial Consultation On that note, if …

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North Carolina Child Custody Myths

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

Child custody disputes can be complicated and stressful. One way of feeling more confident, however, is to become well-informed about how child custody works in North Carolina. A big part of this process is learning about myths and misconceptions that can lead parents to making bad decisions. Myth 1: Fathers Don’t Get Custody of Children We must first dispel the biggest myth in child custody: that fathers do not get custody of their children. This is completely untrue. This misconception derives from the century old “maternal preference” that countries used to implement—which presumed that children should be with their mothers during their tender (early) years. North Carolina did away with maternal preference decades ago in favor of the best interest of a child standard. So instead of presuming that a …