Ever since you and your children’s parent began talking about separating, chances are your children have been your greatest concern. You both might have postponed the decision to separate because of concern about the impact on your children. Now that the time has come, you might still have doubts about how this will affect your children in the long term.

It can be difficult not to worry about how the sharing of parenting time with your spouse will affect your children. You may also have fears about being cut out of your child’s life. Try to remember that regardless of who has custody, it is likely that the court order will not only give you a lot of time with your children but will also give you a generous opportunity to be involved in their day-to-day lives.

With the help of lawyers from Conrad Trosch and Kemmy, you can make sound decisions regarding the custody arrangement that is in the best interests of your children. Most parents, experts, and lawyers agree that resolving the issues related to your children out of court is far better for you, your children, and your spouse. A settlement of custody issues that each party buys into is likely to provide for a more stable and long-lasting resolution for your family than one thrust upon you by a judge, no matter how well intentioned it may be.

Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, there are multiple options for the future custody of your children. Under North Carolina law, there are two aspects to a custody determination: “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Legal custody refers to the power to make important long-lasting decisions regarding your children. Legal custody may be awarded to you, to your spouse, or to both of you jointly. If you have sole legal custody, you are the primary and final decision-maker for significant long-lasting decisions such as which school the children attend, religious issues, and who their health care providers are. On the other hand, if you have joint legal custody, you and your former spouse will share equally in the decision-making for your child.

Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the physical location of the children—where they spend their time. Like legal custody, it may be awarded to either parent or to both parents jointly. That being said, absent an unusual or dangerous situations specific parenting time should be awarded to each parent, regardless of who has physical custody. If you are considering joint custody, the lawyers at Conrad Trosch & Kemmy can advise you not only what of your goals that may be achieved but the best way to proceed to achieve your goals.

If you and your spouse are unable to agree to a custody arrangement out of court, a judge may award custody in their discretion based on the “best interests” of the child. Although this determination is child-centric (and not parent-centric), it is important to understand that the judge will want to preserve the child’s relationship with both parents, while reducing unnecessary disruptions to your children’s routines. Whether you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement out of court, or if a judge needs to make the final custody decision, the lawyers at Conrad Trosch & Kemmy will offer knowledgeable counsel, while understanding the stresses involved in such a difficult situation.

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