Understanding Your Parental Custody Rights

If you are considering a divorce in the greater Charlotte area of North Carolina, you may be confused regarding commonly used terms surrounding parental custody rights. Before you make any decisions with respect to the custody rights of your children, learning the different types of custody available to a parent can help ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Physical Custody

Most courts will work hard to afford both parents the opportunity to spend time with their children. Joint physical custody is often granted and refers to the time that a child stays with a parent, typically overnight. Most divorce cases will grant both parents specific times that they have with their child during the week or weekend. Every effort is made to ensure that the best interests of the child is taken into account and that the child is kept on a routine schedule that best benefits them. Oftentimes, joint custody arrangements are made when parents live close to each other. Different physical custody arrangements are made if one parent lives quite far away or in another state.

If joint physical custody is awarded, the court is attempting to ensure that the child has their emotional needs taken care of by both parents. However, even in joint custody cases, one parent typically has more overnights and more time with the child than the other parent. In these circumstances, the court typically looks to where the child goes to school in order to ensure easy and logistically reasonable switches between parents for physical custody purposes.

Finally, you may be concerned about child support. Child support and child custody determinations often go hand in hand. If you are awarded more time with your child, the court realizes that then you will likely incur additional expenses in gas, food, water, and other bills. Because the court is determined to have parents share the child-rearing responsibilities, in these cases, the non-custodial parent will have to pay child support to the parent who has more custody so that they are contributing financially to the upbringing of the child, as well.

Legal Custody

Legal custody regarding children is an entirely separate matter from physical custody. Both parents may have joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or both joint physical and legal custody. Legal custody allows a parent to make major life decisions on behalf of the child in such matters as religion, medical care, schooling, or other choices that will directly impact the child’s life. Again, in most cases, the court will attempt to make a determination regarding the best needs of the child, and in most cases, that will be joint legal custody.

If you are awarded joint legal custody, it is important to note the specifics of your court order when making decisions for the minor child. Usually, you must always check with the other parent of your child before you make a final determination regarding any serious or significant life decision that impacts your child. If you do not, the other parent has the legal right to take you back to the court regarding the custody decision, and you may be forced to undo a decision or change things for the minor child if the decision was not made in compliance with the custody order. In a worst-case scenario, your legal rights may be taken from you regarding legal custody of your child. Therefore, it is always important to follow the child custody guidelines established by the court in your specific case.

Understanding the Child’s Best Interest

As previously mentioned, the courts will typically attempt to determine what is in the “best interest of the child” regarding both physical and legal custody. Again, while courts typically tend to rule in favor of joint physical and legal custody for both parents, it is only because the courts want to ensure that the child is taken care of emotionally and physically by both parents. If one parent appears unable to handle that responsibility, or if there are any types of instances of abuse or neglect, the court may determine that it is in the best interest of the child to only award one parent sole custody, either physical or legal. Visiting with an experienced divorce attorney can help you determine what types of custody options are available to you and your children.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Mooresville, North Carolina

If you are considering a divorce, and are concerned about physical and legal custody rights regarding your child, you should contact an experienced divorce attorney in the greater Charlotte area of North Carolina to help you understand how best to obtain the most amount of time with your child as possible. Contact an experienced divorce attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at 704.370.2828 or online today to schedule your consultation.