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How do I prepare for a child custody case?

While many child custody cases and other results of divorce or separation are on hold, plaintiffs and defendants are taking some extra time to prepare their cases. For one thing, smart plaintiffs and defendants going into a child custody case should know what those terms mean.

  • What are plaintiffs and defendants under North Carolina law?

A plaintiff in a child custody case is the person who is suing for custody, while the defendant is the person being sued. These terms imply that one person automatically has custody, but this may not necessarily be true. All it means is the plaintiff has started the case.

  • What are the types of custody at stake?

There are two types of custody that may be at stake: legal and physical. Legal custody has to do more with the decisions made in a child’s upbringing, like education and religion. Physical custody regards the responsibility for the upkeep and safety of a child’s day-to-day life. The state of North Carolina may take physical custody itself through Child Protection Services.

  • Does one person always end up with physical custody?

Joint physical custody, in which parents or guardians split time and responsibility for a child, is possible and often recommended for children of a certain age when both environments are safe. If only one person gets physical custody, the other may get visitation rights.

  • How can I get help with these issues?

Parents and other interested parties may always retain legal representation to deal with child custody issues. An attorney can be very helpful in mediation or court hearings.