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The legal and physical aspects of child custody

After you file for a divorce in a North Carolina court, as a parent, you must make decisions and resolve issues that are relevant to the care and well-being of your children as you and they move on in life in a new family dynamic. Children are usually quite resilient, including coming to terms with their parents’ divorce. However, if kids have exposure to conflict due to parents fighting over child custody, it may impede their ability to cope.  

To avoid problems and to provide effective and strong support for your children, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about child custody issues and state laws, before heading to court. For instance, make sure you understand the difference between physical custody and legal custody, both of which may be pertinent to your case.  

Residence is the key word where physical child custody is concerned 

The court must make decisions to ensure the children’s care once their parents’ divorce is final. One of the most basic issues you will have to resolve is where your children are going to live once you and your ex set up separate households. If you and your ex share custody, your kids might travel back and forth between both homes.  

On the other hand, if you believe that they would fare better by living with you full time, you can file a petition to request sole physical custody. If you do this, you must provide evidence and testimony to convince the court to rule in your favor.  

Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions on behalf of a child 

During your marriage, if a child-related issue were to arise, you and your spouse would no doubt discuss the matter and make a decision accordingly. After your divorce, numerous issues may arise requiring decisions made with parental authority. For instance, your child might have a medical need or an educational opportunity.  

The parent who has legal custody is the one who will have the authority to make decisions on behalf of your children after your divorce. Similar to physical custody, if you agree to share legal custody, then both you and your ex must stand in agreement on decisions regarding your kids. If the court grants only one of you legal custody, then that parent need not consult the other parent when making child-related decisions. 

Determining what is best for your children in divorce 

While you and your ex may no longer want to be marital partners, you will always have your children to think of, and they will always need your loving care. Most family court judges in North Carolina and beyond would agree that children fare best in a divorce when they maintain active relationships with both of their parents, unless, of course, the court determines that a parent’s presence in a child’s life is placing the child at risk.  

You can customize your child custody agreement to fit your family’s needs, which may or may not include shared physical or legal custody of your kids. If you believe the court has not served your children’s best interests, experienced legal support can be a great asset. 

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