The process of going through a divorce can be an incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing experience for anyone; however, for those with children, it can become entirely overwhelming. However, this is not a journey you need to embark upon alone. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated family law attorneys have a long history of helping men and women effectively navigate countless divorce cases, including those involving contested child custody and child visitation issues.What Are the Types of Child Custody in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, there are two types of custody one can have over a child. The first is physical custody, which refers to which parent gets to choose where the child lives. The other type of custody is legal custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important life decisions on a child’s behalf. Both physical and legal custody can be held by one parent or shared between both parents.
Courts prefer to award parents joint legal custody of a child. However, in certain situations, the court may deem it appropriate to award sole legal custody to one parent, in which case the other parent will usually have visitation rights.What Is the Difference Between Custody and Visitation?
If a court determines that one parent will have primary physical and legal custody, the other parent will likely still get to spend time with the child. This is referred to as visitation or parenting time.
A judge will typically determine the visitation schedule, although the court may take parents’ input into consideration. Sometimes, the court will impose restrictions on a parent’s visitation rights. For example, the court might order supervised visitation, in which case the visit must take place at an approved location and be in the presence of a social worker.Can Courts Deny or Revoke Visitation Rights?
Yes, while the default is that the non-custodial parent has visitation rights, the judge has discretion in whether visitation is appropriate. However, a complete denial of visitation rights is rare. Instead, the court may order supervised visitation. When making any child visitation or custody determination, courts look to what is in the best interests of the child. For example, the following may result in supervised visitation or the denial of visitation rights:
- A history of abuse towards the child;
- A history of substance abuse; or
- Lack of stable and appropriate housing.
A parent’s past actions inform the court’s decision but are not necessarily the only factor; for example, a parent who was not significantly involved in a child’s life is usually given the opportunity to make more of an effort. Additionally, personal issues between the parents, such as infidelity, are rarely a part of the court’s decision-making process unless they impact what is in the best interests of the children.Can Parents Modify North Carolina Custody and Visitation Orders?
Yes, both custodial and non-custodial parents can petition the court to modify an existing custody and visitation arrangement. However, to do so, the parent seeking modification must show that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances that affects the best interest and welfare of the child. Minor changes, such as a parent starting a new relationship, are typically not sufficient to establish a material change in circumstances. However, if a parent becomes seriously ill, loses their job, or is convicted of a crime, it may justify a modification of custody or visitation.Are You Seeking Advice About Child Visitation?
If you are going through a divorce or have an existing child visitation order you’d like to modify, the dedicated Charlotte family law attorneys at the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, can help. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we have extensive, hands-on experience helping parents enforce their parental rights in visitation, custody and modification hearings. We understand that few things are as important to you as your relationship with your child, and we will do everything possible to ensure your interests—and your child’s—are protected throughout the process. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte divorce lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord family law attorneys at 704-918-4747. We represent clients in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, and Union Counties.