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The Risks of Informal Custody Arrangements

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

In our practice, we’ve discovered that it is incredibly common for separated parents to go without any sort of formal agreement or court order regarding custody or visitation. Instead, these parents will have some sort of informal, spoken or unspoken, understanding about where the children live and how visitation is supposed to work. For some parents, this works out. Unbeknownst to these parents, they are taking a great risk. As family law attorneys, we have seen it all when it comes to child custody cases. The reason that informal arrangements are risky is that without any formal order or agreement, there is nothing in place to stop one parent from refusing to allow the other to see the child. On the other side of that coin, there is nothing that …

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Fathers and Summer Visitation

In Parenting by Sarah Hink

If you have children, summertime can be really awesome. There is a freedom to be spontaneous and to plan fun activities that simply doesn’t exist during the grind of the school year. For parents that are separated or divorced, the summer takes on an additional layer of significance. If you are currently operating without a formal parenting agreement or court order, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure you can maximize your time with your children. Summer Visitation and Parenting Plans When parents work on agreed parenting plans regarding custody and visitation of children, some of the primary goals are to create structure, stability, and normalcy for the children. This means creating parenting plans that accommodate the children staying in the same school, maintaining a …

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Happy Father’s Day!

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

You love your children and work hard to meet their needs and raise them well. If you are a father who has recently separated or divorced, you understand just how treasured your time with your children is. Therefore, Father’s Day takes on an entirely new significance. So when you are separated or divorced, what are your legal rights to visit your children that day and give them an opportunity to celebrate with you? First, is there an agreement or order? If you have a separation agreement or child custody order, check to see what it says regarding Father’s Day. It would be surprising if your agreement or order does not account for this holiday. In fact, attorneys understand how important Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and birthdays are to parents, making …

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Moving from North Carolina with the Children

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Separation is often a time of upheaval and uncertainty for children and their parents. The family unit has been split and the children are forced to adjust to living separate lives with each parent. In order to reduce the disruption that children experience, parents will often agree for the children to remain in the same home or geographic area. This is so that they have continuity in their school and extra-curricular activities, and also get to see their friends. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. One source of conflict that we see in custody disputes arises when one parent wants to leave the state. There are many reasons that we see parents leave the state: to live with their new partner, because of a new employment opportunity, or to be …

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When a Visitation Schedule and Summer Plans Collide

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Summer is a great time for the kids. School is out, they get to spend extended time with friends and go to summer camps. If parents are separated or divorced, summer is a time that the children may have extended visitation with their non-custodial parent. Many non-custodial parents really treasure this time, as it is one of the few occasions that they can spend a great deal of time with their children. Unfortunately, sometimes the other parent has different plans for the children. At New Direction Family Law, we see a great deal of conflict between parents arise over this precious summer time. A frequent, and somewhat complicated question that we are asked is: what happens when parents disagree over the children’s summer plans? Parenting Plans Account for the Summer …

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Caring for a Child with Special Needs

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

Our children are always in the forefront of our minds. In fact, they take up an enormous, disproportionate share of our thoughts and emotional energy. This reality can be sobering when your child has special medical needs. Severe psychological conditions, developmental disorders, and acute medical conditions represent the most common categories of special needs that children face. Parents plan their lives around meeting these needs, which can often require around-the-clock supervision and special training, countless appointments with specialists, and can involve frequent hospitalizations. For these reasons, it is incredibly important to work with a lawyer who will fight to make sure that the court is fully aware of your child’s special needs, so that your custody orders leave you in a position to properly care for those needs. Parenting Plan …

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Father’s Day and Visitation

In Child Custody, Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Father’s Day is a special day for fathers and their children. For many dads, it is a day of celebration, relaxation, and gifts they will never use. Unfortunately, like with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can be a day of high expectations, disappointment, and anger when parents are separated or divorced. With Father’s Day quickly approaching, consider the following advice on approaching this day in a healthy and safe way. Make Sure Your Parenting Plan Includes Father’s Day It is fairly standard for parenting plans to account for who gets the children on holidays. If you are the father, I would highly suggest informing your attorney of how important it is for you to have father’s day visitation with the children. If your parenting plan was created and approved without an …

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Mother’s Day and Custody Conflicts

In Child Custody, Domestic Violence, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Mother’s Day. A day to celebrate mothers. Their love, their sacrifices, and everything they do for us. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Unfortunately, when it comes to separated or divorced parents, Mother’s Day is far from a simple holiday. When parents split custody, Mother’s Day can take on a whole new meaning. For the mother, it can mean spending a peaceful day with the kids. It is an opportunity for mom who works so hard to know that her kids love and appreciate her. On the other hand, for the father, it can be a day of nostalgia—of great sentimentality in which he remembers better times with his family. The day can be a reminder of warm memories that he shared and celebrated with the mother of his children. Some Simple …

Co-Parenting: Putting the Child First

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

When you and your spouse separate or divorce, you both have experienced a loss. Regardless of why it happened, it is natural to feel sadness, anger, resentment, and regret. Unfortunately, these emotions often manifest themselves in unhealthy coping behaviors and children often get caught in the middle. However, as hard as this separation is hitting you, always remember that your children’s sense of security has been shattered. Your children need both of their parents to put them first. Healthy Co-Parenting While easier said than done, there are numerous ways that you can make this transition better for the children: • Try to reach an agreed custody plan. A long, contested custody dispute is a recipe for an unhappy child. There is fighting, uncertainty, and sometimes inappropriate tactics that parents use …

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Parenting after Divorce

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Whitney Wall

Divorce creates many obstacles that can leave both parties feeling defeated. For those with children, none may feel more trying (or important) than the challenges that come with co-parenting. Before making any co-parenting decisions, it is important to prepare for opposing opinions. Most likely, the same differences that stressed your marriage will manifest as you work to establish a parenting plan post divorce. Unless your child’s immediate safety is a concern, part of the process is accepting that these differences/challenges will exist. Once we accept the challenges, we are in a better position to act on what we can control (and understand that some things may be out of our control). The next time you hit a co-parenting roadblock, try one or more of the below suggestions designed to help …