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Recognizing Foster Care Month

In Community by Sarah Hink

In North Carolina and across the country, there are hundreds of thousands of children who are in foster care. These are children who states and courts have found to be abused or neglected, or whose parents are unable to care for them. As a result, these children have been placed in the care of foster parents, with appropriate family members and friends, in group-homes, and in institutional settings. May is National Foster Care Month, the purpose of which is to bring attention to children in foster care, to celebrate foster parents, and to encourage the widespread support of foster children and their caregivers. New Direction Family Law firmly believes in child protection, and that every child has a right to live free of abuse and neglect. Celebrate Foster Families Foster …

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Violence and Visitation Do Not Mix

In Child Custody, Domestic Violence by Sarah Hink

Children and family violence do not mix. Children are vulnerable and completely depend on adults to provide them with safety and stability. Domestic violence and child abuse are devastating to children. Firstly, there is the risk or actual bodily harm suffered by children exposed to violence in the home. Secondly, children also experience an incredible emotional detriment when they are physically abused or they witness violence against a household member. They can carry this trauma with them their entire lives and are more likely to have significant mental health issues, to have trust issues, and to enter into violent relationships when they become adults. Child Custody Determinations Consider Violence Courts recognize the risks and impact that violence has and do not tolerate violence when it comes to children. The last …

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Termination of Parental Rights

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Termination of parental rights is the ultimate action that can be taken against a parent. It means the permanent severance of the legal relationship between a parent and child, including legal and physical custody of the child and access to the child. A termination petition may be filed by a child’s other parent or by people who want to adopt a child. However, it is much more common for a termination petition to be filed by a social services agency or foster care agency in association with a child protection case that originated from abuse or neglect of a child. Termination of parental rights is a matter that attorneys and courts take very seriously. It is treated as an absolute last resort. The North Carolina General Statutes specifically allow for …

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What Makes a Parent Unfit?

In Child Custody, Domestic Violence, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

The significance of the parent-child relationship cannot be understated. Legally, it has constitutional dimensions and public policy in North Carolina and the country dictate that parents should generally have rights and ample access to their children. However, these rights and presumptions are not absolute. This is particularly salient in situations where a person has demonstrated himself or herself to be an unfit parent. Limiting a Parent’s Access to the Child In any custody determination, courts in North Carolina are required to enter orders that “promote the best interest and welfare of the child”. What this usually means is some form of ample custody, access, and visitation that promotes the continued parent child-relationship and bond. However, in reaching these decisions, the court also has the discretion to “consider all relevant factors …