According to the U.S. Census, last year, approximately one million children were affected by custody issues. ( Parenthood.com) Child custody is undoubtedly one of the most contentious issues surrounding the breakup of a couple with children together- married or not, the couple must decide who, where, and how to continue to parent their children. And it’s almost never as simple as which parent’s home the child will stay and on which days. Separating parents face a myriad of questions when it comes to custody- not only where will the child stay and when, but who will be in charge of taking them to activities? Who will pay medical costs? Can we go on trips without the other parents permission? Who can be around the child? How do we handle new spouses/partners relationships with the child?
It’s understandably overwhelming. And for many reasons, a courtroom isn’t necessarily the best place to get all of those questions answered.
Oftentimes, parents who are splitting up are willing and ready to decide custody matters amongst themselves- but want an extra layer of protection. That is where a Custody Consent Order comes in- and an experienced custody attorney.
A custody consent agreement allows parents to negotiate and agree amongst themselves the above questions, plus whatever other issues are important to them regarding their kids.
Do I need an attorney?
One or both parents usually hire an attorney to help them with the custody agreement. It’s a good idea to at the very least get the counsel of an attorney, because they are going to know what North Carolina allows as far as custody agreements, how the process works, and how to negotiate effectively to get a satisfactory final product.
What sorts of issues can be addressed?
North Carolina allows many issues surrounding custody to be decided via consent agreement. Some example include: which parent will have physical and legal custody, or- if both parents are to split custody- where the child will be on which days and who has decision making power for specific issues; whether child support will be paid to one parent and how much/often it will be paid; whether each parent may travel outside of the state or country with the child; who will be in charge of insurance coverage; who will be in charge of uninsured medical costs; who will decide what activities the child will participate in and who will pay for them….and many more.
What is the process?
The attorney will sit down with the parent that they are representing and go through all of the issues that the parents have concerns with and develop a proposed agreement based on that parents positions. Then, the attorney typically sends it to the other parent, or the other parents attorney to review and make counter proposals. The parents will go back and forth until both are happy with the agreement. Sometimes, formal mediation is necessary to come to an agreement ( see previous post on Mediation) After both parties have agreed and signed, the consent gets submitted to the court for a judge’s signature. Once signed by the judge, the agreement is a court order ( as if the judge had said it themselves).
If you think a Child Custody Agreement could be right for you or your case, or are just interested in learning more about the process OR just have questions about family law at all- Call Gorman Law Firm, and ask to speak to Emily Edwards!
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If you are currently facing a family law related issue, contact Gorman Law Firm, PLLC. Our office can be reached by phone at 800-583-6602 or by completing our online contact form. Our office is open normal business hours during the week, but we provide office hours on Saturday and are available around the clock through our website. We accept all major credit cards as payment and offer services in English, Spanish and Portuguese. OR check out our website: gormanlawpractice.com!
“New Trends in Child Custody.” Parenthood.com , http://www.parenthood.com/article/new_trends_in_child_custody.html#.VaUfo_lVhBc