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 ensure your children 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 some cases, court is necessary. If handled correctly, it can actually protect the children 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 part of 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.
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Step by Step Guide for Dealing with Child Custody and Child Support
1. Consult with your Raleigh Divorce Attorney. Explain the circumstances of your separation to your attorney and talk to them about your children. Bring report cards, health information, and a list of questions and concerns you have. If possible, bring recent tax returns and pay stubs for each party. 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 your schedule? Think about the practical day-to-day and how it would or could work. Don’t forget to consider holidays, family travel, and traditions.
3. Consider how you will 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 and are not binding in 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. They cannot be changed without a proof 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 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, etc).
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 eliminates the possibility of misunderstandings or face to face hostility that often comes with direct negotiations.
A letter from your attorney that includes the deadline should accompany the proposal.
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. During this process, 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, but do not let it consume your life.
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. The calculation result does not necessarily have to become the child support award.
For example, if you have an agreement for child support in the amount of $500.00 per month 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.
If you are 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 calculated 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 other benefits.
At The Doyle Law Group, We Fight For Your Children
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. Protecting their future and your rights are our #1 priority.
To schedule a consultation regarding child custody or support, please call us at (919) 301-8843 or fill out the form below.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer Today (919) 301-8843
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