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Legal Documents For Child Custody


Legal custody is the right to make major decisions about the child. Physical custody means the right to have the child in your physical care, either all the time or part of the time. Both legal and physical custody can be either shared by the parents or held solely by one parent.




Legal Documents For Child Custody



Any parent can file for custody, whether the parents are separated, divorced or never married. Third parties, such as grandparents, relatives, or others who have cared for the child, can file for custody or visitation under some circumstances. To obtain custody, non-parents must prove that the parents are either unfit to care for the child or have not acted in accordance with their rights as parents, for instance, by abandoning the child to be raised by a non-parent. Grandparents may also be awarded visitation in some circumstances when there is a custody case between the parents. Non-relatives requesting custody must prove that they have a substantial relationship with the child.


Custody mediation is a conversation between the parents assisted by a professional mediator. The mediator works with the parents, without attorneys in the room, to come to an agreement about child custody, if possible. You can learn more about mediation in the Custody Mediation Help Topic.


Judges may enter either temporary or permanent custody orders. A temporary custody order will be in effect until the judge holds a new trial to make a decision about modifying the temporary order or entering a permanent order. Temporary custody orders are legally binding, but easier to change than permanent orders. If you are unhappy with a temporary custody order, you can schedule your case for a review of the temporary order or for a permanent custody trial. Temporary custody orders can become permanent if neither party requests another hearing for a long period of time. To change a permanent custody order, you must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the child since the permanent order was entered.


Custody orders from other states are valid in North Carolina. In general, even if you and/or the child has moved from another state to North Carolina, a judge in the original state will continue to make decisions in your case as long as one of the parties still lives there. If everyone has left the original state, you can ask the North Carolina courts to take over your case. If you want a North Carolina judge to enforce or change your out-of-state order, you must begin by registering the order in North Carolina. You can find the petition to register a custody order from another state or country here.


Parties with legal custody (decision-making authority) make long-term decisions about education, health, religion, care, welfare and other important areas. Physical custody (child access/visitation) refers to where children live and how much time they spend with each parent. Watch a video on important terms in a custody case.


Complete a Complaint for Custody (CC-DR-004) to ask to the court to grant you custody. File the form in the Circuit Court where the child lives or where either parent lives. Make enough copies for the other parent and keep at least one copy for yourself. Watch a video on how to file a custody case.


Every county has a family services coordinator who knows about programs available in your jurisdiction. Find that person in your area. Court programs include co-parenting classes, mediation, custody evaluations, child access or visitation services, and more. Watch a video on legal proceedings in a custody case.


Maintain clear, detailed child custody documentation. Keep a record of visits, phone calls, emails, and any other forms of contact between you and your children's other parent and between your children and the other parent. As best as you can, stick to the facts and keep the language neutral.


  • In Alimentor, you can document each parent's time spent with the children by creating records containing the following fields: Caregiver and children

  • Scheduled start, end and location (if applicable)

  • Actual start, end and location

  • Status: planned, actual or canceled (no show)

  • Notes, photos, scans and PDF attachments

  • Disagreement flag and custody factors

You will be able to utilize this information in court to prove a continuous and meaningful relationship with the child.


Take the time to evaluate your assets, liabilities, income and expenses.This will give you a clear picture of your financial situation and can help in preparation and presentation of a child custody and support case.


When collecting documentation, tag your records with best interests factors (aka custody factors). Then you will be able to generate the "Custody Journal" section of the report using the "Best Interests of the Child" layout.Give this document to your attorney to minimize the time needed to prepare a legal brief.


There are different types of cases and papers you can file to ask for a child custody and visitation (parenting time) order. Which type of case or papers you can file depends on your situation, like whether you and the other parent are married or you already filed a family law case.


If there's already a family law case involving the child in California, then you can file a Request for Order (form FL-300) to ask the judge to make or change an order in that case about child custody and visitation (parenting time). Common family law cases are divorces or parentage (paternity) cases.


You first need to start a family law case (like a divorce between you and the other parent or a parentage case). Then, you can ask in that case for child custody and visitation orders. Which type of case you start depends on your situation.


If you are not the child's parent but want custody of the child because the parents are not able to care for the child, find out more about guardianships. This is when the court orders someone other than a child's parent to have custody of the child.


Child custody laws can be complex, and state laws on the subject will vary by jurisdiction. Determining custody rights over a child or children must be done with great care, as such decisions have profound and lasting impacts on the child.


A child custody agreement, or child custody contract, is a type of written document which details the guidelines for child custody between the parents of a child or children. These agreements are generally issued in connection with a divorce or separation proceeding. It may contain various instructions regarding:


Additionally, the custody agreement may address various other issues. Examples of this would be child support provisions, and whether or not other parties can assume custody of the child, such as a grandparent or close relative.


As previously mentioned, a child custody agreement letter will detail topics such as custody and visitation schedules. Parents who are able to communicate and negotiate with each other may be able to draft a child custody agreement on their own, therefore avoiding child custody proceedings. Again, each state maintains their own laws regarding child custody and child custody agreements. As such, you should familiarize yourself with the laws of your jurisdiction before taking any action.


Generally speaking, a child custody agreement is formulated and approved during the divorce or separation hearings. In other cases, the parents may have already been separated for some time. They may have chosen to create a child custody agreement outside of the court, and without any connection to a divorce or separation lawsuit.


In such instances, the parents should still submit the custody agreement to a judge in order to have it legally approved, as previously discussed. And, the custody agreement should always be in writing. It is largely unlikely that a court would approve of an oral agreement.


Every state varies in regards to the legal documents required for child custody. Each state has its own set of paperwork, which can be found here. Some examples of what various states require include, but are not limited to:


It is important to note that having a notarized child custody agreement alone is not enough to prove there is an agreement between two parties as to child custody. However, having a notarized child custody agreement does show that both parents/parties did agree to the child custody arrangement at that time. Thus, the party wishing to not have the notarized agreement accepted as the child custody agreement, will have the burden of demonstrating to the court why it should not be accepted.


As child custody agreements are legally enforceable, violations of child custody and visitation orders are treated seriously and can lead to legal consequences. Some common examples of violations may include:


An attorney can also assist in the negotiation and finalizing of the child custody agreement. Having an attorney helps to ensure that the child receives the best arrangement possible for them. Additionally, your attorney can also represent you in court as needed.


Child Visitation refers to how a parent who doesn't have physical custody can interact with the children. Unsupervised visitation means they can see the child often without supervision. Supervised visitation requires the other parent or an agreed-upon third party present during visits. Virtual visitations are visits by video or telephone.


Custody changes or modifications are simple if both parents are in agreement. If parents are not in agreement, such as one parent thinks the other is unfit, it is much more challenging. For the most part, most states want both parents to help raise the children, even if things don't go quite right. In most cases, supervised visitation would be enforced before a court-ordered custody modification.


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