Family Law: Child Custody- What to Know
Child Custody – What to Know When Filing a Lawsuit
When spouses separate and children are involved, emotions can run high and issues can get hotly contested. As a couple dissolves their relationship, they may have irreconcilable differences regarding how to raise their children. Or, they may not agree on where the children should reside moving forward.
If you are in a similar situation, there are two aspects of custody to consider:
(1) Legal Custody—the rights and responsibilities to make decisions concerning the welfare of a child, such as education, religion and health care.
(2) Physical Custody—the physical care and supervision of a child and where the child physically resides.
If a parent decides to file a lawsuit in Guilford County for custody, what happens next?
First, after a claim for custody is filed, both parties are required to attend a custody
mediation orientation in the Greensboro court. This is a group class that prepares you for mediation. You cannot have a custody hearing until you attend mediation through the court (unless there is an exemption that allows you to waive mediation).
Next, both parties will sign up for a scheduled mediation. At this mediation, only parties to the lawsuit and the court mediator are present. If you have an attorney, he or she is not permitted to attend this mediation with you. Furthermore, the discussions held in this session are private. If the parties come to an agreement, the mediator will draft a Parenting Agreement and will send it to the attorneys to review with you to make sure you understand the agreement. Finally, if both parties choose to sign the Parenting Agreement, the judge reviews and signs it, and it is incorporated into a court order. Parents will also be ordered to attend (at separate times) “Parenting Under Two Roofs,” a program that helps parents realize the impact of their actions on their children and how to keep children out of parental conflict.
Keep in mind that if the parties do not come to an agreement during mediation, the case moves forward to trial. The Oxner + Permar team has years of experience in helping parents get through the trying process of a divorcing from their spouses. The end goal is to establish an arrangement that keeps the children’s best interest in mind and gives you a sense of peace about the future.