Joint custody isn’t always easy, even though this is the most common type of child custody agreement. Even if you and your former partner split amicably, you are likely to have disagreements from time to time. That’s where we come in. A great team of joint custody lawyers near me can protect your rights as a parent and ensure the best possible outcome for any child or children involved. Here at Morgenstern & Associates, we help our clients with custody agreements, child support, and all other aspects of separation and divorce.
Understanding Joint Custody and Your Rights
“Joint custody” is a legal term regarding which parent cares for a child. There are actually two types of child custody in North Carolina: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to where a child physically lives and who is caring for that child’s physical needs. Legal custody refers to who makes important life decisions for a child such as where they will go to school and what religion they follow.
Just because one parent has primary physical custody of a child doesn’t mean the other parent never sees them. For child support reasons, joint custody (aka shared custody) typically means that the child spends at least 123 overnights with each parent. However, you can still share parenting responsibilities even if this is not the case.
Keep in mind that even if you have joint custody, you may still be entitled to child support or have to pay child support to your spouse. Child support payments are based, in part, on who has physical custody, but also on the incomes of both parents and the needs of the child.
Pros and Cons of Joint Custody
A common knee-jerk reaction we see is that the best situation is for a child to have both of their parents in their life equally. However, an even custody split might not be the best choice for your family. The best solution for you is going to be one that is less stressful for the child where you both feel empowered to co-parent without fighting. Here are some of the disadvantages to joint custody:
- The child may feel like they don’t have a true home since they are constantly shuffling between households.
- If the parents don’t live close to one another, the child may have to spend a lot of time traveling.
- Both parents have to take on child-rearing duties even though one parent may have a more flexible work schedule or enjoy those tasks more.
- The stress of maintaining a joint custody agreement can cause arguments, which can be a source of trauma for the child.
Pros of Joint Custody
Of course, there are many reasons why joint custody is best for some families as well:
- Raising a child is hard work, and splitting these responsibilities can make parents’ lives less stressful.
- It allows each parent to have time alone without the financial responsibility of hiring a sitter.
- The child gets to maintain a relationship with both parents, as well as feeling included in blended families.
- Raising a child together can give parents a common ground, so while there may be arguments, there can also be moments of joy to celebrate together.
What works best for you is going to depend on your specific situation and the child. Studies show that children tend to do better when parents share custody, but this is a generalization. Our team will help you fight for what is best for your child. It’s important to have a good legal team on your side during any custody battle (here’s why).
Your Rights for Visitation
If you don’t have physical custody of your child or children, you may still be entitled to spend time with them. Visitation is a secondary kind of custody, which is also called “parenting time.” All parents have the right to spend time with their child, unless the child’s safety is at risk. In some cases, other relatives or caregivers may also get visitation rights.
There are two types of visitation:
Supervised visitation occurs when the non-primary parent has had issues in the past (for example, an issue with substance abuse). The other parent will be present during the visit or, in some cases, a court representative or social worker may oversee the visit instead.
Unsupervised visits are more laid back. If a joint custody agreement isn’t right for your family, visitation can take its place. For example, maybe you and your former partner live a few hours from one another, so it does not make sense with your child’s schedule to travel back and forth multiple days per week. Instead, your visitation might include the child spending every other weekend at your house. If you and your former partner cannot agree on what is appropriate, a court can decide for you.
FAQs About Custody Agreements and Hiring Joint Custody Lawyers Near Me
Every case is complex in its own unique way. While we can’t give you specific advice on your case until we meet with you, here are a few FAQs about child custody in North Carolina to answer your query for joint custody lawyers near me:
Do I need a court order for custody or visitation?
No. You and your former partner can create your own custody agreement or visitation schedule. However, it is always best to have a team of joint custody lawyers to look over this contract before you sign it to ensure it is fair. Having a fair and thorough agreement can help you both focus more time on raising your child, so you can successfully co-parent instead of arguing.
Where will my child spend holidays?
This is something that you and the other parent can discuss and outline in a custody agreement, or a court can decide for you. Typically, a child will spend half of their holidays with one parent and half with the other, then flip that schedule for the following year. When you write your agreement, you may wish to include holidays or special occasions that are specific to your family, such as birthdays, annual family reunions, etc.
Can I lose my visitation rights?
Inherently, both parents have visitation rights, but a judge may consider limiting these rights if the child’s well-being is at risk. It’s extremely important that you don’t violate any visitation agreement or order. Not only do you want to provide stability for your child, but you also want to ensure that your visits can continue.
It’s critical to find a team of joint custody lawyers near me so that you have proper guidance in your area. We can take on any challenge involving custody and visitation. Whether you are currently the primary parent, seeking joint custody/visitation, or need help with an ex who is violating a custody agreement or order, we can help. Additionally, we have experience helping couples create a solid separation agreement for custody if you are in the beginning stages of your divorce. We’d love to learn more about your case. Chat with us now to find out more about working with Morgenstern & Associates for all your custody needs.