Parents deeply love their children, so it’s not surprising that child custody is often the most contentious issue in Charlotte divorce cases, or when other circumstances cause a couple with children to split up. North Carolina has adopted a child custody procedure that attempts to resolve disputes between the parties quickly and without the need for multiple lengthy court hearings, but this process can sound a little foreign to those who are unfamiliar with it.
Child Custody Mediation in North Carolina
If you are seeking custody of your child for the first time, you will have to file a Motion or Claim for Custody to let the court know about your case. If a court has previously entered a Custody Order, you will need to file a motion for custody modification stating that there has been a “substantial change of circumstances” affecting the welfare of your children. This could be based on the changing needs of the child as he or she gets older, the remarriage of one of the parties, or any number of other factors.
The court will then set a date for child custody mediation. If the case is filed in Mecklenburg County, both parents will be required to attend parenting classes regardless of how soon mediation takes place and whether they are able to come to an agreement. Neither party is allowed to bring an attorney to the mediation. Both parties must attend unless there are concerns about domestic violence, in which case that parent may receive a waiver to attend. If one parent lives out of state, he or she will often be allowed to attend via telephone or may request that mediation be waived. Both parties also must attend an orientation session before mediation takes place. The mediator is not an attorney but is usually someone who works in the court. The mediator cannot force the parties to come to an agreement, but will try to help them reach a compromise about child custody that they both find acceptable. If the parties can come to an agreement, the mediator will draft this in writing and sent it to the attorneys for the parents to review. The agreement can be a detailed multi-page schedule of custody times, or just a few general statements about the wishes of the parents. This is completely up to the parties and what they believe is necessary. If no agreement can be reached in mediation, the case will go before a judge for a trial.
A child custody trial proceeds just like any other trial, though only a judge presides, not a jury. Each party calls witnesses in support of their custody position, and submits documents in support of their case. Ultimately, after hearing all of the evidence, the judge will decide what sort of custody schedule is in the best interest of the child.
Dedicated North Carolina Family Law Attorneys
The attorneys for Remington & Dixon, PLLC have spent years practicing family law and helping parents in Charlotte get primary custody of their children. For a confidential consultation with hard-working divorce attorneys in Charlotte, contact Remington & Dixon, PLLC today.
Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.