Child Custody Attorney in Gastonia, North Carolina
The child custody process can be emotionally taxing for all parties involved during a family law case. The decision to end a marriage is not an easy one. It is no secret that the process of divorce can be especially difficult on the children. It is imperative for the adults in the situation to be sensitive to the needs of the children and ensure that they feel safe and secure in a time when their world is drastically changing.
My firm, The Law Office of Eddie L. Meeks, PLLC, is dedicated to providing effective, compassionate representation in Gastonia child custody matters. My goal is to aid spouses in putting aside any personal feelings to do what is best for their family. I leverage my extensive experience to find favorable arrangements and settlements for parenting issues. As a native North Carolinian, I know how important it is to provide effective, efficient legal aid to my clients in Gastonia, Charlotte, Lincolnton, and Hickory.
Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement
Whenever I help my clients create a child custody agreement, there are two main options. The first option allows both parties to draw up their own terms and present them to the court for approval. This method is typically the quickest, least expensive, and saves the family from grief and anguish. However, I understand sometimes parents can’t come to an agreement.
This is when the second option becomes the course of action. In this case, you’ll go to family court, and the judge will establish a custody arrangement for you.
Joint vs Sole Custody
One of the main results of your custody arrangement is establishing joint or sole custody of your child. Joint custody and sole custody are legal decision-making concepts. Parents with joint legal custody must make child-related decisions together or jointly. When a parent has sole custody, that parent is permitted to make the final call, or decision, on major decisions affecting the child.
Legal Custody vs Physical Custody
Physical custody refers to where the children physically live. Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions for a child, such as:
Where a child should attend school
What religious training a child should receive
What medical and dental treatment a child should receive
Factors Considered in Determining Custody
When negotiating and determining child custody, there are several factors that the parties—and potentially the judge—will use in making the best decision for the child. These usually include the following:
The financial situation of each parent
Parental relationships with the child
Any special needs or requirements
Minor children’s age
Continuity and stability
In some cases, the court does consider the child’s preference. In the North Carolina court system, the judge should consider the child’s wishes if and only if the child is “of sufficient age to exercise discretion.” The judge then decides whether the child is mature enough and understands the situation before presenting a child custody arrangement.
Modifying an Existing Child Custody Arrangement
Once a custody order is in place, the judge will typically only modify it if there has been a substantial and material change in the child's circumstances since the original order. North Carolina courts want to discourage frequent custody modifications because they usually uproot a child's life, school, and community.
Examples of substantial and material changes might include:
One parent relocating to another state
A new job leaves the child alone for long hours
A significant change in one or both parents' finances
The other parent is not honoring their portion of the custody agreement
One parent is arrested or sentenced to jail time
While a parent usually files a motion to modify a child custody order, interested third parties like grandparents or other close relatives may request custody modification from the court.
Child Custody Attorney
Serving Gastonia, North Carolina
Every divorce case is unique, but one aspect that is universal among them is acting in the best interest of the children. Helping parents reach settlements that work for everyone — and litigating aggressively to protect your parental rights when necessary — are clear strengths in my family law practice. If you are experiencing child custody issues, contact my firm, The Law Office of Eddie L. Meeks, PLLC, today. I serve clients in Gastonia, Charlotte, Lincolnton, and Hickory, North Carolina.