When Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live with in North Carolina

There are many urban myths in family law, and whether a child can choose which parent to live with is one of the most persistent matters in a divorce.

A child’s best interests are the primary focus of North Carolina family law and there is no specific age for a child’s right to choose. As a result, it is not accurate to say that when a child reaches 12 years old they will have the right to choose which parent to live with. North Carolina custody law accounts for a child’s opinion no matter the age.

Split Custody Schedules

Most divorces have children spending split time with each of their parents. With some creativity, there are many ways to create a schedule that maximizes quality time with each parent. Often, what works when a child is in elementary school may not work in middle school or high school.

The biggest issues cited when a child expresses that they would prefer to spend more time with a particular parent involve access to electronics, cars, supervision of homework, and extracurricular activities (sports). One parent may place more weight on homework and grades, while the other parent may feel that sports and extracurriculars are more important. There isn’t any right or wrong approach and ultimately depends on the needs of the child.

Custody Schedules for Children Above The Age of 16

By the time a child begins to drive, visitation schedules often go by the wayside. The teen can spend time with either parent or instead use that time for personal relationships. Both parents usually experience a loss of control of their child’s schedule and unequal time with each parent could occur. Parents should practice the best possible communication with each other, keeping the child’s best interests top of mind.

Parents may not always agree with each other over punishments for broken rules in one or the other household. If both parents cannot agree on a single approach, each household should be consistent in what is or is not acceptable behavior, and what are appropriate punishments.

There are always cases in which your child may begin to go down paths that might lead to harm. Drugs, sex, and risky behavior are best addressed with a unified front from both households. However, filing a lawsuit is not always the best way to address these issues. It isn’t always possible for both parents to agree on a course of action.

We Can Help

Divorce matters are important and often require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the needs of the children and parents are properly considered. If you need legal assistance, contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter. You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or by completing our contact form. We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service.

Telling Your Children About Divorce

Children and DivorceHow to Have the Divorce Talk with Your Child

Divorce is never easy, especially for children. The way you break the news to your children can direct the course of your children’s emotional and psychological state throughout the divorce process. The approach you and your spouse take when having the divorce talk with your children carries great weight, so make sure you do it the right way.

Before we get into a list of things you should and shouldn’t say to your children after you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, it is important to remember that this news should come from both parents. Having a united front is one of the best ways to help your children cope with the news of divorce.

Things You Should Tell Your Children

Tell your children how this will affect them.

It is vital that your children come out of the conversation knowing how this decision will affect them. Tell your children not only about your decision, but also of the ramifications of that decision. Will this change where they live, where they go to school and how often they will see both of their parents? These are things your children need to know.

Tell your children where they are going to live.

In the same vein, it is important to tell your children that their living situation will likely change, even if you are unsure of all the details at the time you have this conversation. Whatever you tell your children, make sure they know that things will change in this regard.

Tell your children that you both love them.

Above all, perhaps the most important thought you should communicate to your children is that you and your spouse love them very much, and your decision to divorce is in no way their fault. Tell them that no matter what happens, your and your spouse’s love for them will not change.

Things to Avoid Telling Your Children

Don’t use accusatory language.

Blaming your spouse, a third party, or even inadvertently blaming your children for the divorce will, almost certainly, emotionally and psychologically traumatize your children. Blaming, whether overtly or subtly, is something that should never enter this type of conversation.

Don’t divulge too many details.

While you want your children to be aware of your decision to divorce and how this will affect them, there are certain details about your reasons for divorce that they have no need to know about. Sharing too much information usually does more harm than good.

Don’t oversimplify your explanation.

Just as divulging too many details about your reasons to divorce can be harmful, so also is oversimplifying your explanation of the situation. If the talk you and your spouse have with your children leads them to believe that nothing will change, you’ve done it wrong.

After you have finished explaining your decision to your children, be ready to answer their questions, be sensitive to their feelings and give them ample time to process the news.

Contacting a North Carolina Divorce Lawyer

If you and your spouse have decided that divorce is the best course of action, we invite you to speak with an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney. Contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter.  You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or completing the contact form on this website.  We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service!

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