Because child custody is such an emotional issue, these cases are sometimes litigated in court. In North Carolina, custody mediation is required in all cases involving litigation. The court provides the mediator and there is no charge for the custody mediation program. Both parties must participate in mediation until they reach an agreement, or until it is determined that they are unable to reach an agreement.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, a trial will be scheduled to settle the custody/visitation issues. In these cases, the judge will consider many factors when determining what’s in the best interest of the child, including:
- Physical, mental, emotional needs of the child and each parent’s ability to provide for the various needs of the child
- Each parent’s care-taking ability and home environment
- Each parent’s availability to the child
If it is determined that a parent has acted inconsistently with his or her constitutionally protected rights to parent the child, if appropriate, the may be determined that a non-parent, such as a grandparent, would provide better care for the minor child than the biological parent.
It is important to understand your legal rights and obligations in custody cases. Shannan Barclay-Tuorto is a family law attorney in Asheville that can help you negotiate your custody agreement, provide references for mediation, and formalize agreements reached as a result of mediation or litigation in your case.
For more information about Child Custody Mediation program in North Carolina