Child Custody Attorney in Weddington, NC
Family law matters are intensely complex, but one of the most divisive and sensitive areas of family law are custody-related issues. At Lehnhardt Price Family Law, we understand that these situations can be extremely complicated. We aim to help you understand the child custody and visitation processes while providing expert legal care for you and your family. In the Weddington area, our firm is known for our expert handling of family law cases, especially when it comes to securing your rights as a parent for the welfare of your child.
Child Custody: Terms to Know
For those new to child custody issues, the process may seem confusing. Knowing the different terms and practices associated with the process is an important step when going into a child custody case. It can help clarify your own situation. Some of the more common terms associated with child custody include:
- Physical custody. This term describes which parent the child physically lives with. This parent, typically referred to as the custodial parent or primary caretaker, is responsible for the main obligations that come with caring for a child. The noncustodial parent is still responsible for their child’s financial responsibilities and can still visit their child based on an agreed-upon visitation schedule established by both parents. Physical custody differs from legal custody, which is often shared between both parents regardless of caretaking duties. Some arrangements have both parents with legal physical custody, called joint physical custody.
- Legal custody. Although caretaking duties are typically awarded to one parent, legal custody allows both parents to have a say over the different decisions that can impact your child’s life. Some of these decisions, including religious affiliation or education, are typically shared by both parents during a marriage, and for the welfare of your child, a judge may grant legal custody to both parents to maintain these institutions. For example, if you are a practicing Catholic and your ex-spouse is no longer a practicing Catholic, part of your legal custody over your child may be the decision to attend regular church services or baptisms.
- Joint custody. Joint custody agreements are a common outcome for some divorce proceedings, splitting up a child’s time equally between both spouses. The idea of joint custody is to ensure that your child can maintain some of the regular contact with both parents, emulating what they received before your divorce, helping them cope better with the change in your family dynamic. For these custody arrangements to work, there needs to be a high level of communication and cooperation between both parents, which can be inaccessible in some situations. Fortunately, joint custody agreements are not the only custody arrangements available for divorced couples, and other options for custody and visitation are available.
- Primary caretaker. The primary caretaker in a custody arrangement, typically referred to as the custodial parent, is the parent that is awarded full custody over their child and is responsible for the primary caretaking responsibilities of that child. Feeding, grooming, health care, and purchasing clothing for your child are all vital responsibilities that a primary caretaker is responsible for, so ensuring that the right parent is named as your child’s primary caretaker is one of the most important aspects of a custody hearing. In any case, the court will evaluate both parents to decide which one is better equipped to handle primary caretaker responsibilities.
- Noncustodial parent. In a child custody settlement, the parent deemed the noncustodial parent will typically be allowed visitation rights on a schedule agreed upon by both parents, in addition to providing compensation in the form of child support. With input and information from both parents, a judge will decide which parent is deemed able to assume the roles of the custodial and noncustodial parent.
What Is Visitation?
Visitation is an important aspect of child custody decisions, especially in joint custody agreements. When one parent is deemed the primary caretaker of your children, being able to visit them and spend quality time with them is necessary, not only for you as a parent but for your children too. Typically, when deciding the stipulations of your personal custody agreement, visitation times are predetermined, allowing you to plan your schedule around your children, ensuring that the time you spend with them is quality time.
Are Custody Agreements Re-Negotiable?
Custody agreements can be changed, but you need legal advice to help you move forward. Depending on things like living expenses, residency, and health status of the parents, the terms outlined in an original divorce proceeding can be renegotiated to better accommodate your current situation.
For example, if your ex-spouse decides to move out of state, your visitation schedule and custody arrangement can be renegotiated to ensure that both parents can see their children. Other factors, such as the health of the primary caregiver, can change visitation and custody agreements for both parties, transferring primary caregiver duties to the noncustodial parent if health problems or injuries deem the custodial parent unable to support your child. Although these are very different in severity, the outcome of these cases can be uncertain at times, and the ability to renegotiate any custody decisions is important for you and your ex-spouse to provide the best care possible for your child.
Contact Weddington, NC Child Custody Attorneys Today
At Lehnhardt Price Family Law, we understand how emotional child custody proceedings can be. Our compassionate team can help you through every step of the process. Child custody and visitation rights are one of the hardest parts of the divorce process, so ensuring that your child and their well-being are properly represented in your court proceedings makes all the difference for the outcome of your case.
At Lehnhardt Price Family Law, our legal team is here to help you advocate for your rights as a parent and retain child custody and visitation with your child. Our services extend throughout the Weddington area, and our team of professionals is here to help support you and your child through such a mentally draining process like child custody battles, so contact us and schedule your consultation.