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Child support is the court-ordered financial maintenance of a child. Child support is not only an issue in divorce cases, but can also arise in other scenarios, such as parenting plan modifications, paternity, non-parental custody, and relocation. These cases are often complex, requiring representation from a knowledgeable attorney. Without proper legal representation, a parent may find themselves with minimal support for their family, or on the other hand, paying significantly more than they are able.
Going through a divorce or a separation during a marriage is tough; but going through this process with children is even tougher. Children are the most important aspect to any family, and maintaining stability in the Children's lives financially is of the upmost importance to us.
Child Support can be distributed in either a divorce proceeding, or through a mutually agreed-upon separation agreement. We will work to secure the right amount of financial support for your children so that the hardships on the marital relationship do not seep into the children's everyday life. We want to make this process as easy as it can be on the Children.
Child custody can be set either through a written custody agreement approved by both parents, or through a court order. It is very important to have a written order, either through an agreement or set by the court, to ensure that one parent will not abuse or violate the terms of the custody arrangement. It is very difficult to ensure stability in you or your child's life without an enforceable, written document. Moreover, North Carolina law presumes an equal, 50/50 custody arrangement without an enforceable document stating otherwise.
In some cases, custody of the children is very straight-forward, given one parent has traditionally been the everyday caregiver to the children. However, issues can arise concerning holidays, travel, and extra-curricular activities of the children and the duties imposed on each parent. These issues can be settled in a written custody agreement.
When the parents are unable to agree on custody rights, the judge will have full discretion in determining which parent is awarded custody. The judge awards custody based on “the best interest of the child.”
The judge will form his own definition of “in the best interest of the child,” by weighing various factors on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors that the judge may weigh are: the age of the children, each parents living situation, each parents relationship with the children before the divorce, sexual orientation, abuse/neglect, and the child’s preference. With such a flexible standard, the Judge can decide which factors to weigh more heavily than others, making the outcome of many child custody cases quite uncertain.
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