Each parent has equal rights with respect to their child and can spend as much time with their child as they wish. This may not be a problem when both parents are living together with the child as a family unit. When both parents get along and can communicate amicably, then not having a custody order may be fine even if the parents are living separately. However, this can unravel quickly.
A custody order or agreement lays out how custody is handled, including whether a parent has sole or joint custody, and the physical custody schedule of the child, and holiday schedules.
Without a child custody order, either parent can lawfully take physical custody of the child at any time. This can pose serious problems when the parents do not agree on the custody schedule.
A custody order can be established in a variety of ways:
- Mutual agreement without legal assistance;
- Collaborative law;
- Filing a custody action in court, which still provides the opportunity to mediation and negotiations, with the assistance of an attorney.
There are many benefits to having a custody order.
- Protects the rights of the parent(s) caring for the child;
- Sets out a specific physical custody and holiday schedule;
- Determines where the child will go to school if the parents do not live in the same school district;
- Allows for enforcement of a regular visitation/custody schedule.
Even if your current custody situation is amicable without an order, that does not mean that a custody order should not be established. If both parents are amicable with one another, it may be beneficial to participate in collaborative law or mediation, which does not involve litigation, but can work towards establishing a schedule that works for everyone involved.
If your custody situation is not amicable, it may be time to file a complaint for child custody to establish a custody order to protect your rights as a parent, and prevent the other parent from withholding your child from you.
If you share custody of your child with the other parent and do not have an agreement it place, it may be time to talk to an attorney to discuss your options. If you are involved in a child custody matter and need representation or simply have general questions, King Law’s team of attorneys in North and South Carolina are here to help you. Call us today at 888-748-5464 to schedule a consultation.