Helping Clients Navigate A Course To A Better Future

When is it in “the best interests of the child” to limit a parent’s custody rights?

Often we hear the phrase “the best interest of the child” thrown around throughout child custody cases. Of course, every parent loves their child, and they do want what is best for the child, but what does that really mean in the eyes of the court and how does this phrase apply to custody cases? 

The court, in alignment with a consensus from the academic and psychiatric community, agrees that a child spending time with both parents is indeed in “the best interest of the child”. When possible, joint custody should be favored over other custody arrangements. 

How does this standard apply when one parent is abusive or neglectful?

But what happens if it is in “the best interest of the child” to remove them from the physical custody of one of the parents or to cut off visitation altogether due to the revelation of abuse or neglect?

If you have learned your child has been abused by your co-parent or someone within the co-parent’s household, the first step is to file an emergency custody order. An emergency custody order is “an immediate, short-term custody order that a judge can grant under limited emergency circumstances, without hearing from the other party”.

The reason a judge would grant this order is if the child is at serious risk of bodily injury, sexual abuse, or if the co-parent is attempting to remove the child from the state of North Carolina to avoid the authority of the North Carolina courts. Law enforcement can assist in recovering the child if an emergency custody order is filed. Once the order has been granted by a judge, a hearing must be scheduled at the same time to allow both parties to be heard. 

What should you do when you think sole custody is best for your child?

It is agreeable that it is in “the best interest of the child” to spend time with each parent. However, there may be circumstances where that is not the case. If you find yourself in this situation, remember to seek legal advice to help you through the process.