Articles Posted in Visitation

7Can an Unmarried Father Get Visitation of His Child?

The societal trends of families in the United States have changed quite a bit over the last 50 years. While families in the mid-1900s were composed mainly of married parents, that is not always the case today. The number of unmarried fathers has doubled over the last half-century. About 1 in 5 children are living with their unmarried mother. This means that unmarried fathers must take steps to seek visitation with their children.

Unfortunately, without a legal order, mothers are not required to allow an unmarried father to spend time with their child. A father should seek a court order to ensure that they get regular visits with their child. Before you can take legal action, you must establish that you are the child’s biological father.

Dad-RightsWhat are a Father’s Rights in North Carolina?

A child has two biological parents, and both often play important roles in their life. Although a mother gives birth, both the mother and father have rights and responsibilities. Generally, both parents are allowed to spend time with their children. One parent typically has physical custody of the child, while the other has regular visitation. Both parents often share legal custody that allows them to make important decisions for their child regarding health, education, religion, and more. An experienced family law attorney will help protect your parental rights.

Can a Father Get Custody?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Can I keep my Kids from seeing the other parent?”

Divorce changes the family dynamic and requires adjustments from all family members. Children are especially important when considering the new way that a family will interact. Generally, both parents are allowed to spend time with their child following a divorce. Typically, parents share custody, but a child resides primarily with one parent and has regular visitation with the other. The parent in the home where the child resides is often called the primary custodial parent. It is essential to ensure that a child spends time with the non-custodial parent following a divorce.

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

There is a special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. Their relationship is based on love and appreciation. For this reason, many grandparents wonder, “Do I have any visitation rights as a grandparent in North Carolina?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What are my custody rights if the other parent moves?”

As anyone who has ever been through a divorce with children knows, custody is almost always the thorniest issue to be resolved. Though it can be difficult to reach agreement with a spouse privately, it is often better to try this rather than hand your case over to a judge to decide. A recent custody decision out of Virginia illustrates this point well, with the judge handing down what many view as a bizarre order which says that the girl at the center of the custody dispute is prohibited from practicing or playing golf.

Charlotte Divorce Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Does adultery affect who gets custody?”

This summer’s same-sex marriage ruling has resulted in rapid change across the country as courts adapt to the new legal landscape. The family law court system has borne the brunt of these changes, dealing with weddings, adoptions and, unfortunately, divorces. Given how new same-sex marriage and divorce is across most of the country, some issues have arisen and the courts are having to make their way through uncharted territory.

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


Holidays are all about tradition, and as Heather Gray writes for Yahoo Parenting, divorced dads can get the feeling over the holidays that “traditions don’t really exist” for them anymore.

Dad with children Charlotte Family Law Attorney North Carolina Divorce LawyerIf what a divorced dad has in mind for a happy, fulfilling holiday doesn’t square up with reality, the first step towards making a happy holiday a reality is becoming clear about exactly what a divorced dad wants. One may not—due to opposition from an ex-wife, due to legal agreements or other circumstances—be able to get everything one wants, but it is important to begin with a clear picture of what one believes happiness must include.

The worst that can happen is an ex will say no. The ex has Christmas with the kids. It’s in the custody order, that’s it.

But that’s not it, and if relations are generally amicable between a divorced dad and his ex, perhaps there is room for compromise. Maybe there is something a divorced dad can offer in return for holiday time with children. Perhaps on an upcoming weekend the children can remain with their mother instead of spending the weekend with their father, as is their custom.

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Child Custody Lawyers Monroe, Union County, NC.jpgGuardians ad litem are people that have been appointed by the court to represent “the best interests of the child” in court proceedings. In family court, guardians are appointed in contested custody and visitation cases, and cases where abuse or neglect has been alleged. Though guardians can be directly appointed by judges, in many contested custody and visitation cases the guardian is selected by the parties’ attorneys.

In these contentious custody cases the guardian is paid for by the parties. Though the guardian ad litem is typically an attorney, this is not always the case as anyone who meets the requirements can be a guardian in such cases.

The guardian’s role is a bit of a mixture of investigator and advocate. Some guardians will tend towards one side and not the other; it depends on the circumstances of the case and the temperament of the individual guardian. Some are zealous advocates for the children while others act as reporters, documenting behavior and recording interactions between parents and child.

The guardian who acts as an investigator will try to develop a strong factual understanding of the life of the parents and child. Guardians are empowered to interview the parents and the children, observing them on multiple occasions and even conducting surprise home visits. The guardian can then present the court with information that a judge would want to know when making a decision concerning custody and visitation. The guardian who behaves more like an advocate can have more of a viewpoint, deciding which situation is a better fit for the child and attempting to influence the court to support this view.

Even the most balanced guardians can invariably influence judges in their final reports. A guardian whose final report that says the children are doing fabulously well with the mother or that the father is an alcoholic carries a lot of weight with judges and can ultimately be determinative. Such reports let the court know what’s going on so that they can make a recommendation as to custody.

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grandparents visitation.jpgAccording to a recent article in the New York Times, divorce couples face a tricky issue that they may never have expected when beginning the process of separating from their significant other: grandparents. Most parents want them involved in their children’s lives but it can be complicated given hurt feelings on both sides.

If the divorce was civil and no one was at fault things might be fairly simple, but what if things didn’t go so swimmingly? The goal for parents should be keeping the grandparents in the family regardless of the parents’ differences. The following suggestions can help ease a difficult transition:

1. Figure out your own relationship with your ex’s parents.

What’s your relationship with your former spouse’s parents? Do you visits with them? If you’re comfortable, go for it. Coffee, e-mails, texts are great. If you’re not, now’s a good time to practice being civil. Don’t let whatever emotions you might have towards your husband spill over to the rest of his family.

2. Keep the lines of communication open.

One thing parents can do is make it clear to the grandparents that they have full access to the grandkids no matter what is going on between husband and wife. Make yourself available to the other side of the family, they might be worried about you cutting off contact and an olive branch can go along way to making everyone relax.

3. Issue invitations.

Ideally it would be good for the ex-spouse to take the lead in making certain that his or her parents were invited to graduations, to concerts, to school functions, etc., but if he or she doesn’t, do it anyway. Another good bit of advice is not to limit time with the paternal grandparents to when the kids are with their dad and vice versa for the maternal grandparents.

4. Be aware of the kids’ needs.

Sometimes having everyone gathered at the same time for holidays and family events isn’t what’s best for the kids. Many children won’t want to have their worlds collide with new spouses mixing with their parents and grandparents. If that’s the case, try for more visits under different circumstances. Better to have them spend time one-on-one and have the time be meaningful than put on a show that makes everyone uncomfortable.

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Man Working on Laptop.jpgA recent article in the Washington Times discussed the not uncommon occurrence following divorce is one parent moving out of the city or even state. New job opportunities, family times or new relationships can cause one parent to need to relocate. When kids are involved this can cause problems and much stress for parents and children as they worry about a strained relationship developing as a result of distance.

According to a report for the National Center for State Courts, an estimated 18 million children have separated or divorced parents, and an additional 17 million more children have parents who have never been married. One out of four of these children have a parent living in a different city. Within four years after separation or divorce, 75% of mothers will relocate at least once, and of that number over half will do so a second time. As a result, close to 10 million children do not have regular face-to-face interaction with one of their parents.

Technology has now provided an option that did not exist before. Parents can now stay in touch with their children and avoid losing that close relationship thanks to email, texting, Facebook and video conferencing systems such as Skype. This new trend of “virtual visitation” can make long-distance parenting much easier for both parent and child.

The term “virtual visitation” has a very specific meaning under the law and refers to the rights of a non-custodial parent to have electronic communication with their children. Since the early 1990s when the first cases arose concerning the issue many states have enacted provisions concerning the subject. Utah enacted the first electronic visitation law; Illinois was the most recent state where virtual visitation became law in 2010. So far six states have laws on the books covering “virtual” or “electronic” visitation rights including North Carolina: Florida, Texas and Wisconsin are the other three. Twenty-two other states have their own efforts underway to add similar laws to their books.

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