In child custody cases in Charlotte, North Carolina, in can happen that relationships between parents may be strained and a common symptom of a co-parenting relationship is that either one or both parents do not share adequate information about the child with one another. However, the state’s law provides protection for parents to make sure they always have access to their child’s important records and information.
Access to Information and Records
Under N.C.G.S 50-13.2(b) of the state’s child custody laws, in the absence of a court order, both parents must have equal access to their minor child’s records in terms of the child’s health, welfare, and education.
Under this statute, you are guaranteed equal access to your child’s school report cards, progress reports, doctor’s records, and all other important documents about your child’s welfare, such as his or her extracurricular sports schedules, unless a court rules otherwise. You have the right to access your child’s records provided a court does not limit your access.
Many family court judges in North Carolina have understood this statute to mean that since each parent has access to their child’s important information, the parents must not use each other as a record-keeping service. For instance, you should not bear the responsibility of seeking out and giving your child’s school reports to the other parent when you both have equal access to such information.
The “Right of Access”
Parents often clarify and expand on the “right of access” via an agreement in their Consent Order for Custody or their Child Custody Agreement.
One common expansion is language allowing each parent the right to discuss and meet with the child’s sports coaches, physicians, teachers, and any other caregivers involved in the child’s everyday life.
Another common provision includes those dealing with how such information ought to be shared between the parents, such as a set structure on how the information should be shared and a system that requires parents to share the information directly with each other so that the child does not have to play messenger between mother and father.
Custody Laws in Charlotte, North Carolina
Custody laws in this state are similar to most others, and the Uniform Child Custody Act has been adopted. In North Carolina, child custody laws do recognize joint custody, the courts may consider the child’s own wishes before finalizing custody terms, and it allows for visitation by the child’s grandparents in certain circumstances.
Below are a few commonly asked questions regarding child custody in Charlotte.
- Who gets custody when parents get divorced?
In this state, child custody is determined by using a standard where a judge will determine the best interests of your child. The judge will look at all the relevant factors that have to do with children, such as the parents’ living situation, the stability of both parties, who encourages the child most in educational efforts, and any and all other factors to do with children. While the parents may initially come to an agreement outside of court as to who will have custody of the children, a party is permitted to later file a motion for modification requesting that the court intervene in order to determine the best interest of the children moving forward.
- If both parents end up sharing custody, who, if either parent, pays child support?
This depends on both party’s incomes, who pays for child care costs, who covers health insurance, and a possible myriad of other expenses on behalf of the child. It will also depend on how many overnight stays each parent gets with the child. To determine if either parent must pay child support, it is important to consult with a family law attorney who will be able to apply the facts of the situation and determine if child support is an option.
- What is the difference between sole custody, primary custody and joint custody?
It is important to clarify if you are talking about legal or physical custody when answering this question.
Primary physical custody occurs when one parent gets custody of the child for a significant length of time and the other parent has regular visitation with the child. Joint physical custody, though, is a more equal sharing of the children between parents.
Sole legal custody refers to one parent having the authority to make decisions for the child on their own, whereas joint legal custody occurs when both parents have decision-making authority and are obliged to discuss and reach an agreement agree together on matters affecting the child. Overall, legal custody refers to the ability of the parents to make important decisions for their children and physical custody refers to where the children actually live.
- Is a parent allowed to visit their child is they fail to pay child support?
The saw says that a parent cannot be denied access to their child solely based on their failure to pay child support. If support and custody have been ordered by a judge, and a parent refuses visitation for the other parent’s failure to pay support, it may arise that both parties have violated the order – one for failing to pay child support and one for not following the custody schedule.
If a parent fails to pay child support, the appropriate solution is to go in front of a judge and ask the judge to determine the appropriate resolution. If the court ordered child support to be paid initially, then the best remedy is to file a Motion for Contempt for the parent’s failure to pay. However, if the child support was an agreement that was reached between the parents and not included in a court order, there will have to be a Motion to the Court to require the parent to pay.
What to Do If You Need More Information About Your Child or Custody
Knowing everything possible about your child’s future, from his or her daily activities to big life decisions, and also how visitation and custody work, is an important part of parenting. North Carolina law does set forth a parent’s rights to records and information about their children.
In order to make sure that your Child Custody Order does completely protect your parental rights, talk to our Charlotte family law attorneys at Remington & Dixon today.