Child custody and child support issues are some of the most difficult issues you will face as you move forward with your divorce. It’s important while you are negotiating with your spouse to remember that what is best for the children is really what is important. In North Carolina child custody can be decided between the parties or you can go to court and a judge will decided for you. In most cases it is better if the parents can work out an agreement on custody and child support. The child custody terms can be added to your separation agreement which once signed is binding on the parties.
If either you or your spouse break the agreement in the future you can go to court and ask the judge to enforce the agreement. If you can’t work out custody and child support arrangements, then you will need to go to trial. Child custody and child support trials are heard in front of a District Court Judge. In North Carolina you are not entitled to a jury trial for custody or support. The trial will take place in the county where the lawsuit was filed. The judge will listen to the the witnesses called by both sides and then consider what is in the best interest of the child before making a ruling. The judge can consider many factors, including your willingness to work with each other to each have visitation with the child. The judge can also consider allegations of domestic violence.
Child support is determined based on the state guidelines in most cases. If you or your spouse have a very high income or your child has some special needs then a judge will consider those factors in awarding child support. If you and your spouse can agree on support you don’t have to go to court. If you can’t agree there will be a separate child support trial.Child Custody FAQ Child Support FAQ