Articles Posted in Child Custody

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Charlotte Divorce Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What rules are there for Father’s Right in NC?”

 

The State of Massachusetts is considering a change to its custody laws that would end “an imbalance in the courts that favors mothers over fathers,” according to the Salem News.

Father with Child Charlotte Divorce Lawyer North Carolina Child Custody AttorneyThe legislation is being pushed by the Boston-based National Parents Organization and would require judges in most custody cases to consider joint-custody arrangements. Backers of the bill say the societal norms and traditional roles of men and women in child-rearing have changed, and it is time for custody laws to catch up.

North Carolina’s custody laws eliminated the so-called maternal presumption in 1975. A number of other states followed the Old North State’s lead in the ensuing years, but census statistics show—at least in practice—that mothers are awarded sole physical custody of children far more often in contested divorce cases.

Figures from the 2010 census show that eighty-percent of “custodial parents” are women. Ned Holstein, the founder of the National Parents Organization, told the Salem News the figure may be the result of the manner in which courts have traditionally viewed fathers and their roles in children’s lives. Aside from child-support, alimony and weekend visits, courts have often required little of men in divorces.

Many divorced fathers would like to play a more active role in their children’s lives and think a maternal preference—whether formal or informal—is unfair. Furthermore, Holstein explained, weighting one side of the scale with a preference “encourages bitter custody battles.” Instead of beginning with the presumption that custody will be shared, the presumption is that one side’s right to custody is superior, and the battle ends up being over who “gets sole custody of the kids [and] a boatload of child support and alimony payments.”

Critics of the proposed change say “custody laws must be flexible and always put the interests of children first,” the Salem News reports. They say the focus should be on the best interests of the child, not on the leverage dynamics between parents in contested custody cases.

Massachusetts is not the only state considering a change in its custody laws. The Salem News reports that as many as seventeen states are considering proposals that would mandate consideration of joint custody in most cases or which would change the guidelines for judges considering joint-custody arrangements.

North Carolina’s custody laws are premised upon “the interest and welfare of the child” and explicitly bar any presumption in favor of one parent. “Between the mother and father,” the law provides, “no presumption shall apply as to who will better promote the interest and welfare of the child.”

If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, it is best to consult with an experienced family-law attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact the experienced family-law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.

 

 

About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.salemnews.com/opinion/our-view-child-custody-bill-requires-thoughtful-consideration/article_bac7778b-a6d8-5f6a-8ceb-b536870cd937.html

http://www.masslegalservices.org/system/files/library/JtCiustodySummary%20Memo-5.pdf

http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_50/GS_50-13.2.html

 

 

Image Credit

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Father_with_child.jpg

 

 

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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

 

Custody battles of the future may involve battles between litigants that are—in all our legal history—utterly foreign. That is because, for the first time in recorded history, scientists are on the verge of creating three-parent babies.

Mitochondria Charlotte Family Law Attorney Mecklenburg Divorce LawyerOnce that formerly inconceivable reality comes to term, if one (plus one, plus one) wills it, the normal progress and processes of life will follow, and those will inevitably include family units splitting up and launching battles for custody of a child or children.

Except then it will be three (or more) parents fighting for custody, instead of two. That means—potentially—three lawyers or more… ugh.

So far, scientific experimentation with three-parent babies has been limited to animals. Last week, however, the British House of Commons voted to allow the licensing of facilities in the United Kingdom that may allow genetic modification of human embryos.

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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

 

In North Carolina, the ultimate arbiter of custody is the District Court judge. The District Court judge is vested, by statute, with the authority to determine who should have custody of a child and the terms under which custody shall be exercised.

Child on school bus Mecklenburg Divorce Lawyer Family Law Law firmOf course, the decisions of a District Court judge are subject to appeal, but when parties do appeal a District Court decision and one of the state courts of appeal decides to entertain the appeal, those courts frequently uphold the decisions of District Courts, and if they do not, many times they simply clarify the manner in which a judge should have considered the case and send it right back to the District Court to consider the case anew.

A party’s presentation regarding custody is made in District Court, and the person a party needs to convince is the District Court judge. Many parties believe a good way of convincing a District Court judge that they should have custody of a child is to have the child testify before the court. After all, who better knows what is in one’s best interest than oneself?

The problem with that ideas is that minor children are considered “infants” or “incompetents” under North Carolina law. Minor children do not have the capacity, for instance, to enter into contracts. A court will not take a proposal to allow a minor child to testify lightly. A judge will likely conduct a hearing to consider whether testimony would be appropriate in a particular case, and if so, what measures or protections may be afforded to the child while testifying.

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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

 

Being a lawyer is a bit like being a parent, and that is not because a lawyer’s clients act like children. Some do, I am told, but some lawyers act like children too. When they do, I recall the sage advice given to me by an old attorney for whom I worked early on in my career.

Family Law Charlotte Divorce Lawyer Mecklenburg Child Custody AttorneyHe said: It’s not about you.

This simple piece of advice has saved me a lot of heartache over the years, and it is advice that I believe my clients and any parents can take to heart. Parents, like lawyers, advocate on behalf of a third party. In the case of parenting, the advocacy springs from a selfless kind of love parents naturally express for their offspring. In the case of lawyers, this advocacy is professional.

Parents involved in custody disputes—and the lawyers who represent them—often become involved in heated entanglements. These entanglements may spring from matters that arose before a legal case began, or they may spring from the legal actions one or more party has taken in a pending legal matter. In any case, I have learned that the best results are often obtained when parties to a lawsuit lower the temperature, take a step back, and consider the interests and positions of others.

This is the same advice Los Angeles-based family psychotherapist Katie Hurley has for divorced parents who share custody of children. The secret to successful post-divorce co-parenting, says Hurley, is becoming child-centered.

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “Does adultery affect who gets custody?”

 

For a long time now people have assumed that courts are generally unfair to fathers during custody fights. This belief has held not only among men, but women too accept to a certain degree that family law courts prefer giving custody to mothers over fathers. Though there has been plenty of justification for this belief, new numbers reveal that over the past several decades this trend has changed, rather abruptly, and men are far more likely to get a fair shake today then they were several years back.

 

Male Female Signs Charlotte Family Law Lawyer North Carolina Divorce AttorneyExperts say that the family law world has undergone a somewhat quiet revolution with regard to men and their custody rights. Slowly, the percentage of men being awarded shared custody has increased from a scant number to a much more substantial share. This shift has as much to do with an increased desire among fathers to play a role in the lives of their children as it does a shift in the way that judges perceive men and women’s roles in raising kids and the importance of having both parties actively involved in parenting.

 

The trend towards more equitable custody decisions began in the 1970s when family law courts consciously decided to break away from the notion of the male as the financial breadwinner and the woman as a dependent caretaker. Instead, the courts adopted the radical notion that husbands and wives were interdependent, meaning they shared both financial and parenting responsibilities.

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

A couple from suburban Cincinnati, Ohio is now facing potential criminal charges after giving up the son they adopted nine years ago. The tragic case has polarized many groups in the area; some who feel for the parents and others who argue that they should be punished for their abandonment.

Teddy Bear 2 Charlotte Divorce Lawyer North Carolina Family Law Attorney.jpgProsecutors in Butler County, Ohio say that they intend to file criminal charges against the couple after they returned their son to the county’s children’s services department. Law enforcement officials say they are interested in prosecuting the case to send a message to other parents that it is not acceptable to simply return your child whenever you’ve decided you have had enough. So far the two have been indicted on charges of nonsupport of dependents and were released from jail after paying $10,000 bond.

The sad story began nine years ago when Cleveland and Lisa Cox adopted their son who was an infant at the time. The parents say that they were unable to continue to care for the boy due to his aggressive behaviors for which he had refused to seek treatment. The couple claimed that the boy had threatened both parents and the couple’s two other children with a knife.

The boy is now a ward of the state and remains in protective custody as the parents await word from a judge about whether they will be able to legally abandon the boy or whether they will instead face up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. Officials with Butler County Children’s Services say that the boy is alone and confused. The boy’s court-appointed attorney says that the parents should have provided help for the child, regardless of whether he wanted it or not.

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

In a sign that the Baby Veronica child custody debacle might be finally coming to a close, the baby’s biological father, Dusten Brown, reportedly turned over the girl to her adoptive parents late Monday night at the Cherokee Tribe headquarters in Oklahoma.

Holding hands shadow Charlotte North Carolina Divorce Family Law Child Custody Attorney Lawyer.jpgAccording to news reports, Brown said his goodbyes at the tribal headquarters where he and his new wife have been living for the past several weeks while the custody fight reached a fevered pitch. Brown reportedly then made the handover to Matt and Melanie Capobianco at around 7:30 p.m. that evening, bringing to an end a lengthy dispute that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision to hand over custody occurred after the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided to lift a ruling that had kept Veronica in the state while Brown attempted to win permanent custody over the girl. A spokesperson says the Capobiancos have already left the state and are on their way back home to Charleston, SC.

The exchange was an emotional one for everyone. Reports indicate that Brown’s father, the girl’s grandfather, went into medical distress and had to be transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The Capobiancos were reportedly relieved, glad to see that the lengthy custody fight had finally moved towards a conclusion that saw the return of their adopted daughter.

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “Does adultery affect who gets custody?”

The Baby Veronica battle rages on in Oklahoma as a spokesperson with the Oklahoma Courts said the two sets of parents are currently in the midst of a lengthy mediation over the future of the young girl. In fact, reports says that the mediation sessions have continued running well past the courthouse’s normal closing time, all efforts to ensure that the matter is wrapped up as quickly as possible.

Gavel Charlotte North Carolina Divorce Family Law Child Support Custody Attorney Lawyer.jpgThe media has been in the dark most of this week about what has gone on in the case, with no comments being released by either side. Though it is now known that mediation is ongoing, it is not clear how much progress is being made. Both sides are currently under strict gag orders and are prevented from speaking to members of the media.

Reports indicate that the two groups have spent the past four days negotiating in a room in the Court of Civil Appeals building in downtown Tulsa. Previous statements by Matt and Melanie Capobianco indicate that the adoptive parents, who were awarded custody by South Carolina family law courts, have said that they wanted Veronica’s biological father Dusten Brown to be a part of the girl’s life. For their part, a friend of the Brown family recently said that the family had suggested sending Veronica to South Carolina for the summer to live with the Capobiancos so long as she could stay in Oklahoma during the school year.

The case is a sad one and difficult for both sides given that the Capobiancos raised Veronica in South Carolina for the first two years of her life. Since then, Brown has had Veronica with him and his new wife in Oklahoma for the last two years. Experts say that given how emotional the case has become it is likely that neither group will leave the mediation completely satisfied. However, the goal of the mediation is to produce a solution that both groups can live with.

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

In an especially tragic case out of Arizona, law enforcement officials revealed that a woman has been charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances following the death of her two children. According to officials with the police department, the woman killed her two kids to avoid having to hand custody over to their father in Georgia.

Poison Bottle Charlotte North Carolina Divorce Family Law Alimony Child Custody Attorney Lawyer.jpgA judge in Georgia recently awarded Mark Edge custody of the couple’s two children. The custody fight had gone for months and was incredibly contentious according to those familiar with the case. Marilyn Edge, the children’s mother, was reportedly furious with the result and decided to poison her two young children in a California hotel room rather than send them to their father.

The heartbreaking incident occurred last weekend when Edge gave her children poison and proceeded to drive her car into an electrical box outside a nearby by Home Depot. The murders took place only days before Marilyn was supposed to turn the children over to her husband and begin paying court ordered child support. Tragically, rather than being met by his children, Mark was instead informed by a police officer of the devastating news.

Authorities say the case is stunning given that one of the children, a 13-year-old boy, was autistic and in need of specialized care that Mark had hoped to provide. Now, Mark will have to try and put the pieces of his shattered life back together while his ex-wife faces a possible lengthy prison sentence.

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

It finally looks like the sad case of the adopted girl from South Carolina might be coming to a conclusion. According to a recent report by the Associated Press, the father of Baby Veronica has turned himself into authorities in Oklahoma.

Cherokee Nation Emblem Charlotte North Carolina Divorce Family Law Alimony Lawyer Attorney.jpgDusten Brown, the biological father of the three-year-old girl at the center of a recent Supreme Court case has turned himself into authorities while his daughter remains with family members in the area. Brown surrendered himself on Monday after having been charged over the weekend with custodial interference and a warrant was issued for his arrest in the case involving his daughter.

A couple from Charleston, SC, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, have spent the last 18 months fighting to have the girl returned to them after Brown won custody in 2011. Brown successfully used the Indian Child Welfare Act to reassert his parental rights after initially voluntarily signing them away.

Authorities say Veronica is currently in the care of Brown’s parents and Brown’s wife. The three individuals were recently named temporary guardians of the girl by a Cherokee Nation court. Brown, who is 2 percent Cherokee, asserted his heritage in his child custody fight with the Capobiancos, a ploy that was recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was remanded to South Carolina where the Capobiancos were affirmed as Veronica’s rightful parents and Brown was ordered to return the girl as part of a gradual transition process that is aimed at reintroducing the toddler to the Capobiancos. So far, Brown has refused to participate.

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