Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”
In recent years, an increasing number of couples have opted for mediation and other alternative means of dispute resolution. While North Carolina courts recognize agreements regarding child custody without requiring parents to participate in the costly and emotionally-draining divorce litigation process, a court may invalidate or override such agreements if they are not in the child’s best interest.
A court is likely to invalidate a custody agreement if it is the best interest of the child to do so. Fortunately, parents can create an agreement that has the same effect as a court order. The agreement is called a “consent order.”
Consent orders are negotiated between parents out of court. A consent order is an agreement that summarizes the terms of a custody arrangement. A consent order must be submitted to the appropriate court in North Carolina to get the judge’s signature.
Essentially, a consent order is similar to a court order in terms of its enforceability. A consent order is enforceable because it shows the consent of both parties and contains the signature of the judge.
When do You Need a Consent Order in North Carolina?
While it may be a good idea to seek a consent order to come to an agreement about child custody, a consent order may not be the right option for everyone. It may be beneficial to obtain a consent order in North Carolina in the following situations:
- Problems are likely to arise when trying to settle a custody dispute with your spouse;
- Circumstances between you and your partner are likely to change in the foreseeable future;
- You consider your spouse unreliable; or
- You want to ensure that your custody agreement is legitimate and enforceable.
If you obtain a consent order instead of a separation agreement, your spouse will face penalties for violating the terms of the order. The greatest thing about consent orders is that they combine the benefits of a court order and an out-of-court agreement. A consent order provides the same legitimacy and enforceability as a court order, and, at the same time, gives the parties the ability to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement.
How can You Obtain a Consent Order During a North Carolina Divorce?
The most straightforward way to obtain a consent order in North Carolina is to file a lawsuit for child custody. Unlike other types of lawsuits, a lawsuit filed for the purpose of obtaining a consent order is not necessarily adversarial and involves no negative statements from either party.
Instead, both parties agree to bring a lawsuit for the purpose of submitting their custody agreement for the court’s review to get the judge’s signature. After filing the lawsuit, the parties must outline the terms of their custody agreement in a document.
When the agreement is submitted for the court’s review, the court will have to determine whether the arrangement violates any state or federal law or public policy. Then, the judge will sign the consent order to make it valid and enforceable.
If you are considering obtaining a consent order during a divorce in North Carolina, do not hesitate to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney. Speak with our skilled child custody attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to review your particular situation. Get a phone or video consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today 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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