Charlotte Child Custody & Visitation Lawyers

Protecting Your Rights & Your Child’s Best Interests

Child custody disputes tend to be emotional since the outcome of your case can have a significant impact on your future and your family. Ideally, a divorcing couple can come to an amicable agreement, but that is not always possible. At Jetton & Meredith, PLLC, we help families resolve these difficult issues.

We focus on protecting our clients’ parental rights and obtaining a result that is in the best interests of the children. We understand the importance of preserving the bonds between parents and children even after divorce, which is why we work hard to achieve a favorable outcome in every case we represent.

Contact Jetton & Meredith, PLLC today at (704) 931-5535 to discuss your rights and options with our child custody lawyers in Charlotte, NC.

Child Visitation & Parenting Plans

For custody disputes to be resolved, a parenting plan must be created. Every family situation is unique, so we devise creative solutions to meet the specific needs of each family, including arrangements for long-distance parenting, weekend parenting, and technology-assisted “virtual” visitation to facilitate contact.

Issues addressed in a parenting plan often include:

  • The primary residence of the children
  • The schedule for the other parent’s visitation
  • How communication between parents and transportation will be handled
  • Holiday privileges for each parent
  • Who the children will stay with during school breaks and vacations
  • The impact of the arrangement on child support

Families Struggle With Visitation Orders

Visitation rights often emerge as part of a divorce or after the parents have severed their romantic relationship. While co-parenting is often the recommended course of action to provide children with a loving and consistent environment, problems may arise regarding the visitation plan.

Many custody arrangements call for one parent to be the primary custodian and the other to have visitation rights. However, in some cases, the custodian takes advantage of his or her power and uses it as leverage against the other parent. This may occur because the parents do not get along with each other or because the custodial parent is bitter about his or her time being infringed upon by the parent with visitation.

The custodial parent may infringe on the non-custodial parent’s rights by not observing the provisions in the visitation agreement. He or she may be late in making the child available for visitation and may deny reasonable access to the child. In some instances, the custodial parent may alienate the parent with visitation by completely denying visitation privileges and by taking steps to negatively influence the relationship between the parent and the child.

Individuals who believe that their parental rights are being denied may want to meet with their family law attorney to see what recourse may be available. Courts view the best interests of the child as begin paramount in these types of matters, and they are unlikely to look kindly upon a custodial parent who is interfering with the other parent’s visitation rights. In some cases, a modification of the custody order could be granted.

Physical vs. Legal Custody in North Carolina

Physical custody refers to where and with whom the child is going to live. Generally, there are two types of physical custody arrangements: primary and joint. Legal custody refers to a parent's ability to make major decisions for the child.

When one parent has primary physical custody, this means that the child is primarily residing with them while the other parent has some form of visitation. When a joint physical custody schedule arrangement is entered, this means that both parents are splitting the time with the child on an equal basis, or close to it.

For the purposes of legal custody, major decisions for minor children are often related to health, education, religion, and extracurricular activities. However, it is very common for an order to state that, no matter who has decision-making authority, the parents must communicate about the decision and attempt to agree.

In some cases, a judge may order that if the parents have a good faith conversation and are still unable to come up with an agreement, one parent is able to make the final decision on behalf of the child.

Dealing With Child Custody Disputes in North Carolina

One of the obstacles that divorced couples in North Carolina face is child custody issues. Even though it has already been decided during the divorce, many issues arise afterward concerning decisions about the children. Former partners often disagree about issues that regard every day matters for the children, and as a result, the children are left struggling while the parents "fight it out.”

The most logical thing, of course, would be to sit and talk to each other and come to a conclusion that is beneficial for the children. However, this does not happen often. After a divorce, emotions still run very high between the former couple and it is often difficult for one or both parties to communicate with each other over something as important as their children. This often leads to petitions being made to the court for a decision on the matter.

While some matters, such as parental relocation, agreement modifications, parental visits, and changes to child support amounts may require the use of the court system, other issues really should be handled in a different manner. There are many options that can be used outside of a legal hearing that can allow both parties to settle a dispute surrounding child custody issues.

When two people need to modify the terms of their divorce, sort out child custody issues, or need to resolve any type of problems surrounding the end of their marriage, it could be in their best interest to speak with their respective family law attorneys. Counsel can often take the lead in negotiating an appropriate agreement.

How Judges Resolve Child Custody Disputes

When parents are unable to resolve a child custody disputes amicably, a judge may be called upon to settle the matter. Judges make these decisions based on two fundamental factors; first, they determine which parent has acted as the child’s primary caregiver, and then consider the best interests of the child.

The primary caregiver is the parent who spends the most time with the child on a daily basis.

For example, judges may ask parents which of them prepares the child’s meals, takes care of their health care arrangements, and assists with their schoolwork. In cases where no clear primary caregiver emerges, judges would consider what type of custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child.

In these situations, the judge may also consider factors like the wishes of the child and the lifestyles of their parents. For example, awarding custody to a parent who can provide a stable home environment would generally be better for the child than placing them with a parent who struggles with substance abuse.

Turn to Jetton & Meredith, PLLC for Help

Our attorneys are well-aware of how quickly discussions about custody and visitation can become heated and contentious. In many cases, parents are urged to avoid protracted court battles due to the costs involved and the emotional impact that that this kind of dispute can have on children. When an amicable settlement remains elusive, your attorney may suggest alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation.

Regardless of the path you take, you can count on our Charlotte child custody attorneys to walk you through this process from start to finish. Give us a call today at (704) 931-5535 to discuss your situation with our firm.

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