How to Get Custody of a Child
In North Carolina, one parent can initiate a civil action for child custody to set up or change the custody of a minor child amongst two parents. The statutes that provide the law on child custody in North Carolina is set out in Chapter 50B of the North Carolina General Statutes. Jurisdiction of state to make a child custody determination for a minor child is established through the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.
In order to initiate an action for child custody, a party with standing – normally a parent of the minor child – must file a civil action for custody in the appropriate district court with jurisdiction to issue a custody order for the child based on the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. An action for child custody is often a lengthy court proceeding.
The Child Custody Process
The first filing for child custody begins with a complaint and allegations by the filing party. The opposing party may file an answer with their own allegations for the child custody action. If requested, a temporary hearing for custody will be set in order to get a temporary order establishing custody for the minor child. The reason for a temporary order is to give the parties and the minor child a custodial order and schedule so that the child and parents can establish a routine while awaiting a permanent custody hearing. Throughout the process, discovery, depositions, and other methods of information gathering may take place. In North Carolina, the parties are also ordered to mandatory mediation for child custody in order to attempt to resolve the matter outside of litigation. If mediation fails, the permanent trial for child custody can last up to several days and result in a child custody determination and custodial schedule set by the court. The standard used by the court for custody between two parents is the “best interest of the child.” Courts look at all the relevant factors of a child’s domestic life, including living arrangement, relationship with each parent, a parent’s ability to provide for the child, and whether each parent creates a stable home environment.
Throughout the life of a minor child, custody actions may continue if a change in circumstances occurs that affects the custody arrangement for the child. A party may then initiate a modification action for child custody.
The process for child custody can be long and filled with many hearings and procedures for gathering information. The goal of the proceedings for child custody is a permanent custody order. However, throughout the life of the minor child, the custody determination may be subject to further proceedings for modification of child custody as well. If you are in need of a child custody order or looking for further information on the process of a child custody action, contact the family law attorneys at Mulligan Epstein. At Mulligan Epstein Attorneys, we will work to make the process of gaining a child custody determination and order as easy and stress free as possible.