Factors Considered in Child Custody
In general, parenting time and custody agreements have to be in the child’s best interests. That general principle is agreed upon by most good parents. But even excellent parents can disagree on certain issues from time to time. A number of factors are outlined in North Carolina law to help put this rather esoteric principle into plain English.
A summary of some of the key elements is given below;
1. Present Configuration
Divorce and separation, in any form, are difficult for children. Whether they acknowledge it or not, kids nevertheless require boundaries, rules, and consistency. Therefore, judges frequently want to maintain the status quo if at all feasible.
This is the reason the temporary hearing for divorce is so crucial. In many cases, the temporary orders are incorporated into the final orders, particularly when it comes to child visitation and custody. Judges will only grant substantial modifications in the event that they are supported by groundbreaking evidence—such as a shocking social services inquiry.
In general, if consistency comes at the expense of minor issues, judges are prepared to overlook them.
2.The Preference of the Child
This is a very important factor. It’s not always dispositive, though. A child’s preference is meaningless under North Carolina law unless they are “of sufficient age to exercise discretion.” By this criterion, a judge might grant a 17-year-old’s request while disregarding that of a 9-year-old.
Furthermore, a lot of kids don’t explicitly state what they prefer. Children often refuse to choose a side. They might, nevertheless, subtly convey a preference.
Regarding direct preference expressions, parental alienation syndrome—once referred to as maternal brainwashing—a contentious issue in divorce cases, may be taken into account. Judges typically search for warning signs, such as age-inappropriate language used in an interview. Unless instructed to do so, most young children don’t use many two- and three-syllable words.
3. The Preference of the Parents
Once more, there are two ways in which this preference may manifest. Some parents state their preferences up front. They want sole custody or are content to be parents on the weekends. Parents do, however, frequently convey their preferences inadvertently. They usually state their preferences up front when they get married. Even if Dad tries to persuade a judge otherwise, he probably wouldn’t make a good full-time residential parent if he shows little interest in soccer games and piano recitals during the marriage.
Relatedly, co-parenting might present a problem. Some parents employ a lawyer who vehemently disputes every legal argument. To be fair, a lot of judges think that parents with such stubbornness would not make good co-parents. Thus, this tactic frequently backfires.
4. Entire Environment
This factor encompasses not only the immediate neighborhood but also the overall non-home environment.
Many parents lack the physical, emotional, and other resources necessary to be effective full-time parents. One of the most frequent grounds for a subsequent motion to change child custody is the onset or removal of disability.
The school, the healthcare system, security, and other elements that impact a child’s health and safety are all part of the general environment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody
1. Can parents who don’t get along still have the option of joint custody?
If it is in the best interests of the child, joint custody is indeed possible. Notwithstanding the parent-child relationship, courts have the authority to set forth explicit rules and communication procedures to guarantee the child’s welfare.
2. In what ways can a parent change the custody agreement?
If there are significant changes in the child’s needs, a parent’s relocation, or their capacity to carry out their obligations, parents may ask for modifications.
3. Do judges prefer one parent over the other on the basis of gender?
When making custody decisions, courts are meant to be gender neutral. The child’s best interests come first, without favoring one parent over the other based on gender.
4. How do custody agreements change when someone moves?
Moves can make custody disputes more difficult. Courts consider the rationale behind the move, how it might affect the child’s relationship with each parent, and whether it serves the child’s best interests.
5. In custody cases, how does the court respond to claims of abuse or neglect?
We take accusations of maltreatment and neglect very seriously. To protect the child’s safety and wellbeing, courts have the authority to look into cases, consult with social services, and take into account available information.
6. Can custody agreements be impacted by a parent’s work schedule?
Work schedules are taken into account, yes. The availability of suitable childcare and each parent’s work commitments are taken into consideration by the courts when evaluating each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs.
7. What aspects of child custody do courts take into account?
The age, health, and emotional well-being of the child are often taken into account by the courts, along with each parent’s capacity to give a stable home, financial support, and a positive relationship with the child.
8. What influence does the child’s preference have on custody choices?
The child’s preference is one consideration, but it may be taken into account, particularly as they grow older. The child’s best interests are given priority by the courts, which consider variables other than the child’s preference.