Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”
One of the most difficult parts of the divorce and separation process is coming to a custody agreement. It is important to look out for the best interests of the child, but also take into consideration the parents’ feelings and ability to care for the child. As such, there are policies and procedures in place in North Carolina to make sure that child custody agreements are made in the best interest of the child by reducing conflict between the parents. Court can be stressful for all parties involved, especially children, mediation is an alternative way for parties to reach an agreement and avoid the stress of trial.
Not every custody agreement is full of turmoil and conflict. Sometimes, parents are able to come to an agreement on their own, without court-ordered mediation or interference. In these instances, the parents come to the agreement independent of the court and include the agreement in their final divorce agreement. The custody agreement included in the divorce decree is still approved by a judge, but there are usually no changes made.
Court Ordered Mediation
In the event that parents can not come to an agreement on their own, they will likely be ordered to undergo court ordered custody mediation. If both parties file a claim for custody of the child, the court will most likely require them to attend mediation. There are some instances in which the court will waive this arrangement, but only for “good cause.” A North Carolina statute requires that before custody issues are tried in court, the case will first be sent to the Custody Mediation and Visitation Program.
There are two required steps for the Custody Mediation Program. Each participant must attend an orientation class that prepares the participant for the mediation taking place and attend at least one mediation session. The mediation is a guided session with a mediator to make custody discussions as civil and productive as possible. The mediation gives parties an alternative means to address conflicts that have with each other, exchange necessary information, discuss what the best ways are to parent the child from two homes, and avoid trial and the stress that goes along with it.
The mediator plays an important role in facilitating the discussion. Their main objectives are to:
- Identify the issues, conflicts, and concerns each parent has for custody
- Facilitate a discussion that addresses these issues and potential remedies to the problems. The remedies include how time with the children will be divided, how exchanges will take place, and how major decisions involving the children will be reached.
- Remain nonjudgmental and neutral in the decision making process
- Not make decisions
If the mediation is successful, a Parenting Agreement will be completed and signed by both parties. A judge will then review this agreement and incorporate it into a court order. If the mediation is not successful and no agreement is made, then the case will go to court for a judge to hear both sides.
The family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to help you mediation and any subsequent trials that result from it. We know that divorce is stressful time; let us take some of that stress away and help you reach the best agreement for your children. Contact us today. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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