What are My Parental Custody Rights?

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


The day your child is born is one of the happiest of your life. Now that you are a parent, everything has changed. You now care for and protect another human being and have many responsibilities. You also have some parental rights. In North Carolina, both parents are considered to share responsibilities for their children, and they both have rights. When you divorce, you must learn to share your child with your former spouse. It is helpful to understand your rights so you can make sure to have quality time with your child.


Custody and Parenting Time

There are two types of child custody, including legal custody and physical custody. Generally, the law allows both parents the right to see their children. This is called parenting time. Legal custody is the ability to make crucial decisions for your children, such as those about education, healthcare, religion, and more. Physical custody means where a child resides. Often, a child will live primarily with one parent while the other parent will have regular visitation with the child. As long as a parent is capable of caring for a child, they will usually be allowed to spend time with him or her. A custody order is helpful to give parents specific legal rights.



What is a Custody Order?

A child custody order is a legal document that provides details regarding where a child will live and how the other parent will visit the child. Typically, a child will reside with one parent while the other will pay child support. In some cases, a child will live equally with each parent. Both parents are responsible for providing for the needs of their children until they reach at least age 18. If you do not have a custody order in place, you could face issues later. The parent with primary custody could deny visitation, and there may be little you could do about it until you go to court to resolve the matter.


What if My Former Spouse Will Not Allow Me to See My Child?

Sometimes, a primary custodial parent takes it upon themselves to prevent the other parent from spending time with their child. When this happens, it can create an unstable and emotional situation for everyone. A spouse may want to keep a parent from seeing a child if they are behind in child support payments or for other reasons. For instance, a parent may feel that the other parent is not fit to care for the child. In situations where a parent withholds visitation, the solution is to request a court hearing. The hearing allows both parents to provide information to the judge. The judge must always make decisions that are in the best interest of the child.


Verbal agreements between parents can seem like a good idea, but you must always be wary. Although you and your former spouse may agree to visitation now, things could change in the future. Without a court order in place, the custodial parent could keep you from seeing the child and might even move out of state. An experienced North Carolina divorce attorney will help you with the divorce process and guide you along the way. To find out more, contact our divorce attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828.






The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four 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; and adoption. 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 work to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.




legal custody | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)

Child Custody | North Carolina Judicial Branch (nccourts.gov)


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