The goal of all parents is to raise children who, when they reach maturity, are fully functioning, engaging, productive and happy young adults. The risk is that a child custody/divorce battle can destroy this hope. North Carolina courts, including Guilford County, have come a long way towards minimizing the stress of separation and divorce on children’s lives. There are mandatory custodial programs that must be attended including parenting classes, mediation and a custody information session conducted by the Chief District Court Judge as well as custody mediation with a view toward joint legal and shared physical custody of the children.
At Gabriel Berry & Weston, L.L.P., it is our goal to take charge of these custody issues and work them out on a cooperative, amicable basis in order to keep the children out of the fight. If the custody issue goes to court, then the court has the decision-making authority with regard to all aspects of the child’s life. A court ordered custody arrangement involves much less flexibility than the parents can provide by way of a mediated resolution. Things to consider with regard to custody and should be anticipated in a mediated settlement include:
Relocation of one parent moving out of state
How will the children’s activities be scheduled when they will be sharing time at both parent’s households? And who will pay for them?
College? Although a court does not have the power to order any college tuition expenses for a child over the age of 18 years who is out of high school, there are ways that this can be accomplished through a negotiated settlement.
A court can provide for one parent or the other to pay child support, but what if that parent dies or becomes disabled? What steps can you take to minimize this risk?
Child support can consist of either direct cash payments or indirect expense reimbursements for the reasonable and necessary expenses related to the children. Child support is payable in most cases until the child reaches the age of 18 years or graduates from high school, whichever last occurs.
Because the best interests of minor children are of paramount legal concern to the court, the court always has the power to review child support. This is in spite of what parents may do in terms of any written agreement. Child support can be modified by the showing of a substantial change in circumstances, such as a significant increase or decrease in the income of either parent or a change in the reasonable needs of the child. Additionally, child support orders should be reviewed every three years.
Regardless of whether there are issues involving alimony, adultery, property division or support, the best thing that a parent can do is to keep the children out of the fight and work cooperatively toward active co-parenting to further the best interests of the children. At Gabriel Berry & Weston, L.L.P., our goal is to anticipate potential problems and bring them to the forefront to effectively resolve them in a constructive and cooperative manner. The key is not only to eliminate conflict or minimize disagreements, but also to engage in effective problem-solving in an adult manner not involving the children. While many attorneys will gladly do battle in the arena of custody warfare, one should take all reasonable steps possible to mitigate the emotional and financial expense of going through a custody trial. Contact Doug today at 336-275-9381 or online to discuss constructive, problem-solving ways to deal with your custody issues.