Child Custody

Custody and Visitation Schedules

When couples separate and have minor children, their first concern is usually what happens to the children. The parents want to know if they will be able to see their son or daughter and if the children will be okay living in separate houses. We understand your concerns, but we also understand that every family is unique. The one common thread is your concern and love for your child and that you want the best for him or her. After a combined 30 years of representing parents in family law matters in Raleigh, NC and surrounding counties, our child custody attorneys know that if you and the other parent can agree on a custody schedule, without having to go court, you will have the peace of mind that you and your children will be spared as much turmoil and upheaval as is possible during this stressful and emotional time in your lives.

We’re often asked if there is a “normal” or “set” custody schedule. The answer is no, because no two families are alike. You know your children best. You know your family’s traditions, schedules, emotional and physical concerns, and their needs. We understand your situation is unique, so we take the time to get to know you and your children. This way we can help you determine what custody schedule is right for your family.

Our child custody attorneys in Raleigh, NC work with a trusted network of support professionals to help provide additional education and psychological support for you and your children as you move through the divorce process.

What happens if you and your partner cannot agree on a parenting plan?

If this happens, the family court judge will make a decision regarding what is in the best interest of your children. You may not agree with what the judge orders which is why it is so important to try to solve custody through a parenting plan. We have affiliations with support professionals, such as certified mediators, who can provide assistance to help reach an agreement regarding custody arrangements.

At New Direction Family Law, we can’t tell you what a particular judge will do regarding child custody. No one can. What we will do, is share with you what we have learned in over 30 years of experience in working with clients who are going through separation and divorce. We will educate you on North Carolina’s child custody and visitation laws, what may happen as you move through the process, and what, in our experience, might be a possible outcome. We do this by listening to you, examining all the evidence, sharing with you the pros and cons of a particular custodial schedule, and always being cognizant that your children are your most important priority.

Types of Child Custody

There are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines where, when, and with whom the children will live. If you have primary physical custody, the children will live with you the majority of the time and have scheduled visitation with the other parent. The parents may also have joint physical custody, meaning that the children are with each parent approximately equal time. This type of schedule works best when both parents can co-parent effectively, meaning that they can work together and communicate in a positive and productive way.

Legal Custody

Legal custody determines which parent has the authority to make the major decisions for the children. This could include such things as where the children go to school, medical decisions, and when they will be allowed to get their driver’s license. If you have joint legal custody, it is important that you and the other parent are able to communicate and work together regarding these types of decisions for your children. If not, then it may be best that one parent be awarded primary legal custody and consult with the other parent regarding major decisions.

Separation and divorce is difficult. When you have children to consider and care for, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Give us a call to set an appointment to talk with one our child custody attorneys and share your questions and concerns. We can talk with you about a custody plan, and help you resolve this issue so you can get back to being the best parent you can be. Learn more by scheduling a comprehensive consultation through our online contact form or by calling our office in Raleigh, NC at (919) 719-3470.

Child Custody Schedules

Below are some things you should consider and what a judge might consider regarding a custody schedule:

  • Who has the most involvement with the children on a daily basis?
  • Who has been involved in the children’s school and extracurricular activities?
  • Who wakes the children up in the morning and who does the bedtime routine?
  • Who gets the children ready for school or helps with homework?
  • Are my children in a traditional or year-round school?
  • Who makes the doctor appointment and takes the children to the doctor?
  • Are the children involved in sports or travel teams?
  • Who grocery shops and fixes the family meals?
  • Do any of the children have special physical or mental health issues or learning disabilities?
  • How far away does the other parent live?
  • What are your work schedules?
  • What are the family religious beliefs, holidays, special occasions and family traditions?

Do I have to go to court if we can’t agree on a child custody schedule?

Yes, if you can’t agree on custody, you will have to go to court if you want to have a binding custody schedule that each parent is ordered to follow. Each parent has a constitutional right to parent their children. In other words, if you are separated and you have no signed parenting agreement or court-ordered custody schedule, either parent can have physical custody of the child. For instance, if you drop off your child at school, and the other parent picks your child up from school and takes the child to that parent’s private residence, you do not have the legal right to go to the other parent’s home and take the child without a court order or the express consent of the other parent. In some unfortunate cases, when things like this happen, it can have detrimental effects on the children and their relationship with each parent.

In order to avoid messy scenarios such as this, if parents are unable to agree on a custody schedule, either parent has the right to file a complaint for child custody and seek the court’s assistance in determining a custodial schedule. If a custody complaint is filed, both parties will be mandated by the court to attempt to resolve their issues through court-ordered child custody mediation. If that fails, then your case would be set for a child custody trial where both parents have the opportunity to testify before the judge, present witnesses, exhibits, and other evidence to support what they believe is the best interest of their child. Then the judge issues an order setting out the specific custodial schedule along with other provisions the court believes is in the best interest of the child.

Reaching an agreement outside of court or appearing in front of a judge can be overwhelming and intimidating. Our child custody attorneys in Raleigh, NC are here to help relieve that stress and advocate on your behalf. Give us a call today at 919-719-3470, or fill out our online form, to schedule your comprehensive consultation today.

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