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Frequently Asked Questions in a Child Custody Dispute

When you are in the middle of a child custody dispute, it can become very emotional because this also stems from divorce proceedings. To help you get through with this very challenging process, it is important that you have a child custody lawyer in Charlotte to represent you so that you can efficiently and amicably work through any conflicts that will involve the custody of your child.

It is also good that you have a working knowledge of family law. Even so, when you are facing this kind of issue, you will probably have a number of question. Below are some of the most common questions in a child custody dispute that you may want to take note of:

  • What are the factors that courts usually take into consideration in determining the custody of the child?

The courts mainly base their decision on what is in the best interest of the child. The courts use the Child’s Best Interest Standard, and here are some examples:

  1. The physical and mental health of each parent
  2. The special needs of the child, if there are any
  3. The own wishes of the child if they are old already old enough to say so
  4. Whether there is evidence regarding illicit drug use, or alcohol or substance abuse;
  5. The child’s adjustment to the community like where they go to school, the proximity to the other caretakers, among others

These factors will, of course, vary among the different states, but, the courts will generally determine the stability of each of the child’s parent’s home environment, along with their interest and commitment to rearing the child. The ultimate goal is for the courts to make a decision that will promote the health and the wellbeing of the child.

There are also some states who favor the joint or the shared custody of the child, while others prefer that one parent should be the primary custodian while the other only has visitation rights. This will ultimately depend on the circumstances, so your case may either result in sole or shared custody of your child.

  • What are some of the differences between a sole and shared custody?

In a nutshell, the child’s custody can be classified to two types – the sole custody and the shared custody.

Sole custody, this will involve both the legal and the physical custody of the child and is court ordered. Physical custody of the child means that the child will live with you, and legal custody of the child means that you are in charge of making all of the important decisions that will affect your child, without having to secure consent or input of the other parent.

The parent who will become the sole custodian of the child is going to be responsible for the child’s physical needs and the legal decision making – which will involve the child’s education, health care, and his or her religion. Depending on the facts of your case, the parent who will not be granted with custody may still be required to provide child support and may retain his or her visitation rights.

Shared custody, on the other hand, is when the court will order that both parents are awarded the custody of the child. Both of the parents are the custodial parent, and neither one of them is non-custodial. The child is going to spend a substantial amount of time living with each parent, and both the parent will have equal responsibility as to the physical care of the child.

It is also important to note that even if both parents have been awarded shared custody, the physical custody of the child may not be equally granted to the other parent. Say, for example, one parent may be awarded physical custody during school holidays, while the other will have the majority of the physical custody throughout the rest of the year.

  • Which of the parents will most likely be awarded the child’s custody?

Here, the courts usually determine who should be granted with the sole custody that is going to be based on the child’s primary caretaker. This is granted to the person who is going to do the bulk of the tasks like bathing and grooming, planning and cooking meals, and teaching basic skills to the child.

Historically, the courts will apply the “tender years” doctrine wherein the mother’s rights are favored over the father’s rights in the custody decisions. The courts believe that the mother was almost always the primary caregiver, and, thus, is the best option for the child. However, modern custody laws now tend to be more gender neutral and do not favor one parent over the other. There are some states who award sole custody to unmarried mothers unless the paternity of the child is established and the father is also requesting custody rights.

More often than not, fathers will not request for the custody rights of the child because they will assume that the court is going to default custody to the mother. So, if you are a father and you want to be granted custody, shared or sole, and you believe that it is in the best interest of the child, you should petition the court so that you will be granted with such.

  • What is the purpose of child support and its coverage?

Child support is the amount of money that is being paid to the custodial parent by the non-custodial parent. The money is intended to benefit the child by covering food, shelter, and clothing. This can also include health and medical care, and educational expenses, as well as other daily expenses.

  • Will you need an attorney to help with a child custody claim?

Child custody proceedings are often complicated, emotionally charged, and will require knowledge about the several aspects of family law. Therefore, having a knowledgeable and experienced child custody lawyer can help you with understanding your rights and options, and also prepare your custody claim, and represent you in court. The lawyer might be able to negotiate with the other parent so to avoid prolonged litigation.

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