Dividing parenting time between you and your ex can be a challenge, especially if you have difficulty making decisions together.
Whether or not you are able to come to an agreement about your children and how you would like to spend time with them, having your decisions formally written down and enforceable by the court can provide some peace of mind.
If you and your ex decided to try working out your children’s schedule without a custody order, but you discovered that you are unable to agree, you may choose to have the court intervene and make decisions based on the children’s best interest. This requires setting up a custody order, and either parent can file a request for this any time. Be aware that the court will ask you and your ex to go to mediation to attempt to come to an agreement on your own before a judge will see you.
If you do not have trouble making decisions together about the children and opt not to have a custody order, you both technically then have equal rights to the children. If one parent gets remarried, the new “parent” does not have the same rights as the parent on the birth certificate, or a parent who has an adoption order, for example.
Either parent may file for custody, as well as nonparents such as a grandparent who can prove that the parents have not provided adequate care for the children (abandonment, abuse, etc). To start this process, someone must file a complaint with the court, and a lawyer can do this as well.
The court may make modifications to custody orders by request. The parent requesting the changes must be able to prove that there is substantial reasoning for the change which affects the well-being of the children.
Know the law
There are many details related to child custody and support in North Carolina. Speaking with an experienced family lawyer can help you understand the laws and protect your rights as a parent so you can continue to build healthy relationships with your children.