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When Modifications to Child Custody or Visitation Rights may be Warranted

Child custody experts and psychologists know how important it is for a child to have a strong relationship with both of his/her parents. Thus, family courts that see both spouses as fit parents, then the decision is usually joint physical custody, wherein both spouses are given equal time with their children. Joint custody is, of course, a special case as the normal decision is to grant custody to only one parent (whom the court sees as the most able to cultivate a positive relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent). Whatever decision is made, though, judges, in all U.S. states, consider one common factor: the best interest of the child.

There are times, though, when court decisions do not bring about its projected outcomes as some parents, either the one who has custody or the one with visitation rights, fail to live up to the court’s expectations, becoming neglectful in their obligations either in the proper performance of their function or in recognizing and respecting the other parent’s rights and personhood.

This failure is legally termed as visitation or custody interference, a circumstance that can force a court to modify its original decision. The following acts are considered forms of this interference:

  • Denying the non-custodial parent to enjoy his/her visitation rights in order to estrange the child from him/her.
  • Severing a child’s affections for the non-custodial parent through ill-talks, false accusations and/or negative comments
  • Consciously and systematically brainwashing the child to turn him/her against the non-custodial parent. This negative attitude is known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)
  • The custodial parent not complying with a divorce decree stipulation which says that he/she should inform the non-custodial parent about any plan of moving to another city or state, or of changing residence. Many custodial parents actually relocate to a distant location secretly in order to keep the children away from the non-custodial parent and so have the children fully to himself/herself.

Besides visitation or custody interference, other reasons that also warrant modifications to child custody arrangements include:

  • The custodial parent becoming drug or alcohol dependent, thus, making him/her an unfit parent
  • The custodial parent getting married again
  • The custodial parent passing away or developing a health problem that can restrict his/her duty in caring for the child
  • The child, upon turning 12, requests for a change in living arrangements. A court may, however, deny this request is if it sees that a change will not be in the child’s best interest

According to the website of the Arenson Law Group, PC, “Though your child custody agreement may have suited you and your former partner at the time of your divorce, the ever-changing circumstances of life can make these agreements unfitting when defining when and how you may see your child. Bearing this in mind, you may need to modify your child custody agreement in order to preserve the best interests of your child.

Thus if your circumstances have changed and you would like to talk about the legal work that is necessary to make modifications to child custody agreements, consulting with a child custody attorney may help you address your concerns and discuss what legal rights you may have to modify your agreement.”

On this same issue of modifying custodial or visitation rights, a Lewisville divorce lawyer says that it is possible to have an existing order modified should the situation change.

Types of Divorce in North Carolina

The majority of divorces in North Carolina are absolute divorces – these are no-fault divorces that are either based on grounds of incurable insanity or living separately for at least a year. However, there are other forms of divorce that are accepted in North Caroline. In order to successfully end the marriage and weigh in on the best option, the website of Marshal & Taylor PLLC says that it may be a good idea to consult with an experienced divorce or family law attorney who can review the case and determine how to proceed effectively.

As stated earlier, absolute divorce is the type that would eventually terminate the marriage and make both spouses legally eligible to re-marry again. Annulments in North Carolina would require proof that the marriage was void (non-existent) or “voidable” on evidence presented in court. The annulment of a marriage means that the court has deemed the marriage invalid and that it never really occurred. On the other hand, divorce through separation calls for specific rules that both spouses should follow in order to proceed with the dissolution of the marriage. Both spouses should live in separate residences for at least one year and have not made any sexual contact within that time, and with at least one spouses intending to make the separation permanent.

The bed and board divorce in North Carolina is defined as still being legally married to each other, but both spouses has been court-ordered to live separately due to certain reasons or circumstances. Although bed and board divorces are also rarely given, they are granted on circumstances such as abandonment, substance abuse, adultery, domestic violence or cruelty, and many others. What makes bed and board divorce different is that these circumstances should not necessarily be existent for at least six months before the filing of the action; when the court has determined that a spouse has committed one of more of these offences, then that spouse will be ordered by the court to leave the marital home. This would also automatically make them lose their rights to any inheritance that is commonly exist due to the marriage.

It can be confusing and oftentimes difficult to present a bed and board divorce because the injured spouse should present evidence since this is a fault-based legal action against the other spouse. Consulting with divorce lawyers would be the best way to go through the whole process properly.

Does Filing for Bankruptcy Affect One’s Fight for Custodial Rights?

One very important matter that needs to be settled by spouses who decide to divorce one another is who gets to have custody of their child – a decision which, if they cannot arrive at amicably, will have to be made by a family law court.

Though states may vary in some of the factors considered when choosing who the custodial parent should be, there is one principle adopted by all: the decision will have to be based on the best interest of the child. Thus, if both parents are deemed by the court as capable and worthy, it may decide on joint physical and legal custody.

Joint physical custody gives the former spouses equal time with their child, joint legal custody, on the other hand, will allow both parents to make decisions which will have direct effect on their child’s welfare. In some instances, based on evidences presented in court, full custody is awarded to only one parent, if such evidences can prove that the other parent is unfit.

Except for obvious proofs, such as alcohol and/or drug dependence, child abuse or conviction in a crime, judging a parent as unfit is not easy for the court. In some instances, though, one spouse’s decision to file for bankruptcy may be deemed by the court as a cause to deny such parent custody of his/her child.

Bankruptcy is a legal process filed by individuals who can no longer manage their overwhelming debts; it is a means that will help them regain control of their financial life. There are different types of bankruptcy law, each designed to fit a person’s specific financial situation, and there are tests conducted by courts to help them determine if a person is qualified to be granted protection through bankruptcy.

People who file for bankruptcy should know that it is never an escape from their creditors, but a chance to structure the best financial plan that will make payments not be burdensome for them. Though bankruptcy may require a person to sell some of his/her properties or to come up with a 3 to 5-year debt-payment plan (depends actually on the bankruptcy applied for), its greatest benefit is a fresh start and renewed control over his/her financial future.

A bankruptcy filed in the past or during the child custody proceedings itself ought to be considered irrelevant and, therefore, should not affect one parent’s fight to custodial rights. Some family law courts, however, may view bankruptcy in a different perspective – that is, as an indication of unsound financial management on the part of the petitioning parent. And when it comes deciding the custodial parent, financial capability is one of the factors considered by some courts.

Having an excellent family law attorney, who also has adept knowledge in bankruptcy law, to help you fight for custodial rights, would be necessary, especially if you believe that your contribution for your child’s future would have a better impact on his/her life. This is the same sound and wise advice stated in an article in the website of the BB Law Group PLLC in The Woodlands, Texas, due to the difficulty of the spouses in reaching a term agreeable to both.

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