Divorce is Often Hardest on the Children
If you are facing a separation or a divorce and you have minor children, you have some big decisions to make. Resolving custody issues is a frightening prospect for any parent. In a perfect world, there would be no separation and no need for custodial arrangements or child support, but as we all know the world is not perfect and neither are marriages and relationships. When they break down, you are forced to deal with the future of your kids and ensure they are protected and supported. The good news is that most custody issues are resolved without going to court. So how can you do that?
How Can I Avoid Court During My Child Custody Case?
In many cases, we can resolve child custody for clients by creating a binding agreement for custody through mediation, negotiation or other methods that avoid a costly and emotional court fight. In some cases, court is a necessary undertaking, and if handled correctly it can result in ensuring the children are protected and supported without a vicious fight or bankrupting you with legal fees. Read on to see a step by step guide for resolving your custody case.
Child Support is an essential component to any child custody resolution. Whether you are going to be the primary custodial parent or not, child support should be resolved in way that complies with North Carolina law and protects the rights of both parties.
Learn More About Our Raleigh Child Custody & Support Services:
- Child Custody Basics
- North Carolina Child Custody Law
- Child Custody Agreements – The Process of Settlement
- Child Custody Visitation Schedules & Examples
- Child Custody Cases / Lawsuits
- Grandparents' Rights
- Relocation In Child Custody Cases
- North Carolina Child Support Law
- North Carolina Child Support Guidelines
- Deviating From The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines
- Agreements for Child Support
- How to Calculate Child Support
- What is an Extraordinary Expense
- Child Custody Mediation
STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO DEALING WITH CHILD CUSTODY AND CHILD SUPPORT.
1. Consult with your Raleigh Divorce Attorney. Explain to your attorney the circumstances of your separation and talk to them about your children. Bring report cards, health information, and a list of questions and concerns you have. Bring any recent tax returns and recent pay stubs for each party if possible. This is the best way to start dealing with child custody and child support.
2. Think about what you want. What would your ideal custody schedule look like? How would it affect school, extracurricular activities and each parents schedules. Think about the practical day to day and how it would or could work. Consider holidays and family travel and traditions.
3. Consider how to formalize any agreement. You have two general choices to formalize custody agreements; Custodial Agreements (contract provisions typically included in a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement) or a Consent order. Contracts dealing with custody are beneficial for most people, however, they are not enforceable by law enforcement and are not binding upon courts. In other words, they can be changed or ignored by a Judge if either party files a child custody lawsuit. Consent Orders are Court Orders, and they cannot be changed without a showing of a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the order. Additionally, Consent Orders carry the penalty of Contempt of Court for violations, which are much more serious than any consequences for violating contractual custody provisions.
4. Consider whether the other party is likely to agree to your proposal. If you know the other party will never agree to anything close to your custody goals, you should consider filing a custody suit before negotiating. You should also consider filing suit if the other party is untrustworthy or has issues that affect their parenting ability (drugs, alcohol, mental health issues). Negotiating without any hope of settlement or with someone who is completely unreliable or irresponsible can waste valuable resources and time. Carefully discuss these issues and options with your attorney.
5. If you are going to negotiate, send the complete proposal to the other party. It is generally the better practice to have the entire proposal drafted and ready to sign when sent to the other party as it eliminate the possibility of misunderstandings or face to face hostility that often comes with direct negotiations. A letter from your attorney should accompany the proposal which includes a deadline and any other pertinent information.
6. If you are filing a child custody lawsuit, prepare and gather information. Work closely with your attorney in the planning, preparation, and initiation of any custody action. You should be working on gathering school records, health records, witness statements, photographs, and any other relevant information.
7. Focus on your kids. While this process is occurring, it is essential to focus on your kids and not get too wrapped up in the legal process or the stress associated with it. Consider some family or children’s counseling to help them discuss and deal with the changes in their lives or issues that are affecting them. Spend extra time with them. Let your attorney handle the legal work. Naturally work closely with your divorce lawyer, however, do not let it consume your life, and try very hard to focus on your kids like never before.
8. Child Support calculations. Your attorney should undertake child support calculations under several different custody scenarios. Child Custody in North Carolina is based upon a calculation and the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. The results of any calculation depends upon the custodial time with each parent, income of the parties, expenses of the minor children (daycare, health insurance, etc) and other issues.
9. Know that you can agree to any child support amount. You do not have to use the calculation result as the child support award. If you have an agreement for child support in the amount of $500.00 per month for example, and the calculation calls for $850.00, the courts will accept this agreement so long as it is properly formalized and the amount is sufficient to meet the reasonable needs of the minor children as determined by the parties. If you the payor, it is essential that any child support agreement be formalized to protect you from the risk of child support arrearages for failing to pay the guideline calculation amount from the date of separation, despite a verbal agreement. If you receive child support, it is important to formalize child support payments to ensure consistent and timely support and an effective remedy if support is withheld. Formalizing support can also assist with obtaining credit or certain other benefits.
Do You Need a Raleigh Child Custody Attorney or Raleigh Child Support Lawyer?
Every child custody and child support claim is different and requires specific advice from an experienced child custody attorney. Children are always the most important issue in every divorce and protecting your rights and their future is terribly important.
If you would like a consultation regarding child custody or support, please call our Raleigh offices at (919) 301-8843 or fill out the form below and the team at The Doyle Law Group, P.A. will contact you to see how we can help!
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