Articles Tagged with visitation

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Carolyn Woodruff, J.D., C.P.A, C.V.A.

Dear Carolyn,

I am a father of a beautiful 8-year-old daughter and a handsome 10-year-old son.  I live here, but the mother lives in California.  The mother has custody, but the children will be visiting with me for the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August. While I don’t have much time given the distance between the mother’s house and mine, I really want to make the time count that I do have.  I can take two of the weeks off from work, but I have to work two of the weeks.  What suggestions do you have?

– Dedicated Dad

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Dear Readers,

Internet addiction is here and is real! I would like to hear from you on this topic. Do you know that a Kaiser Family Foundation study showed that two-thirds of parents have no rules on internet use, particularly internet use unrelated to homework and research? Today’s second Ask Carolyn continues a discussion of this topic.

Dear Carolyn,

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Dear Carolyn,

I know I should have kept my mouth shut during the divorce, but I didn’t. My daughter-in-law ended up with custody (not that it wasn’t somewhat justified), but now she is taking it out on us and won’t let my husband and I see our own grandchildren.  We worked hard and saved all of our lives, and now we have time and enough money for trips to the beach, mountains, even Disney World, and would love to take our grandchildren, but we aren’t even allowed to take them out for ice cream.  As grandparents do we have any rights?

 

Carolyn Answers:

You are in luck! The judge can help you, in his or her discretion.  The glitter of Disney with your grandchildren may very well be in your future.

North Carolina General Statute 50-13.5(j) covers the rights of custody and visitation of grandparents. You will need to file a motion (a written request to the court filed with the clerk of court) if you cannot obtain the visitation with your grandchildren from one of the parents. Continue reading →

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Dear Carolyn,

Visitation exchanges are almost always awful for my eight-year-old when the exchange is not at school.  I am a Father with fifty-percent custody.  I have Mondays and Tuesdays overnight.  My ex has Wednesdays and Thursdays overnight. We alternate weekends.

When school is out, we do the exchange at a local fast food restaurant.  My ex almost always brings her new boyfriend with her, and he almost always says something “smart” or derogatory toward or about me.  I have emailed my ex to stop these and I have asked her not to bring him.  My eight-year-old hears this nonsense.  What should I do?

~ Exchange Woes

 

Dear Exchange Woes,

It is obvious that it is not in the best interest of your child to hear the adults around him or her bickering during visitation exchanges. Your child is part of both you and your ex, and as such, he or she probably is stressed to hear derogatory comments about his or her father. Visitation exchanges should be happy for the child preparing to spend time with the other parent.

In Randolph County, several years ago, the news reported a tragedy at a visitation exchange from which we can learn.  Mom and Dad both had someone else with them at the visitation exchange.  The two other people got into an argument at the exchange, and one of the two other people at the exchange shot the other one (non-fatal shooting).   Apparently, the child apparently witnessed this shooting.

So, what should the rules be for visitation exchanges when the parents just do not get along, or there are other troublemakers, such as your ex’s new boyfriend?

Continue reading →

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is in the air and it is a great time to express it to those who you care about most.  It is important that during this festive season that you remember that your children are the ones who need your love the most and we are here to help with some creative ideas on how to make the most of your time with them.  When it comes to time with your children, it is important to remember the deliberate nature in which you must approach each moment you have with them.  Visitation must become more than simply being together; it is of the utmost importance to engage your children, take part in new and exciting experiences with them, and create lasting memories that you can share together for years to come.  Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to express and grow the love between you and your children and it never hurts to have a few ideas in your back pocket to make your time together special.

For younger children Valentine’s Day is a big deal; a good way to keep within the spirit of the holiday is to set aside time for fun and celebration.  A trip to Charlotte, NC provides many options to accomplish this.  Charlotte is home to the Discovery Place Museum- a childhood utopia that is sure to keep everyone entertained while engaging in interactive learning.  Afterwards, crafting valentines to exchange with each other and even take home is a great way for kids to express their love to both parents in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Continue reading →

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s.andrew headshotBy Sarah Andrew, Blog Writer, Woodruff Family Law Group

Everyone knows that the best thing about Halloween—besides the mountain of free candy—is the opportunity to transform, at least for the night, into a superhero or a Disney princess or a delightfully spooky creature. (Or, if your parents are at all like mine, into one-half of old-timey comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, with a bowler hat, a fake mustache, and a pillow stuffed under your button-down.) With the exception of nine-year-old me, who wasn’t thrilled to traipse through her Greensboro neighborhood as a middle-aged man, most kids would jump at a second chance to wear their costumes and celebrate all over again.

But what if you’re the parent whose custody begins a day or two after trick-or-treating ends? Ringing doorbells after November 1 is more likely to lead to dark porch lights and raised eyebrows than to another heaping bucketful of chocolate, and most community events are limited to Halloween itself. Here are some ideas for conjuring up a little ghoulish magic on other nights of the year.

Roll up your sleeves. Everyone’s favorite candy is about to go on sale, so stock up on as many variety packs as you can carry. Fun-size chocolate bars are perfect for baking into cupcakes, or for simply popping back while you wait for the timer to go off. If you don’t trust your kids—or yourself—around an oven, you can opt for a perennial favorite: dirt cups. What’s more fun than crushing a bag of Oreos with a rolling pin? If you’re feeling adventurous, make a full-sized dirt pie. And, of course, try to trick everyone into eating at least a little something healthy by insisting that the peeled grapes are actually eyeballs.

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Third-party rights to custody and visitation can be contentious and complicated. Under North Carolina law, there is a preference for natural and adoptive parents. A biological or adoptive parent has a constitutional right to take care of the child. This includes custody and control of the child. Third parties cannot interfere with this right unless they show that a parent is unfit to care for the child, has been negligent, or has otherwise acted in a manner inconsistent with his or her protected status as a parent.

This rule was created through the case of Price v. Howard. In that case, the plaintiff (the father) and the defendant (the mother) were living together when the child was born. Some time later, the couple separated, and the child remained with the plaintiff. When the child was six years old, the defendant sought custody of the child, but the plaintiff refused. The plaintiff then filed a custody action against the defendant. In her answer, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff was not actually the biological father of the child. DNA tests confirmed that the plaintiff was not the father, and the mother was awarded custody of the child.

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Divorce can affect many relationships, and it is not unusual for grandparents to lose contact with their grandchildren in the process. Are you are a grandparent seeking custody or visitation of your grandchildren? If so, we may be able to help. At the Woodruff Family Law Group, our skilled North Carolina family law attorneys can meticulously analyze your facts and let you know your rights and options.

Under North Carolina law, grandparents can only seek custody and visitation with their minor grandchildren in certain circumstances. One such situation is if both the child’s parents are unfit (i.e., due to drug addiction, abuse, etc.) or unable to care for the child. An inability to care for the child may arise due to a serious disability or death. In such cases, the grandparents could report the parent’s unfit behavior or inability to care for the child to the court and request custody of the child.

North Carolina law allows a grandparent to intervene in an ongoing custody dispute and request visitation with a child. Grandparents cannot, however, seek visitation when their grandchildren are living in an intact family. In the case of McIntyre v. McIntyre, the paternal grandparents, whose son was deceased but had separated from his wife prior to his death, filed a claim for visitation with their minor granddaughter, who lived with her mother at the time. Since one parent was deceased, there was no custody action pending between the children’s parents. Continue reading →

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In court-ordered child custody mediation in North Carolina, agreement is the polar star.  Both parents are applauded for entering a parenting agreement.   The question is whether agreement is always in the best interests of the child.  Certainly, we all want parents to agree, but there are certain times when agreements should be entered into with caution.  Certainly, the majority of parenting cases end with the parents agreeing to terms.  Quite frankly, many of these parents would have agreed on custodial arrangements for the children, with or without mediation. Such agreements by parents are simply parents putting children first and naturally looking after their offspring.  The majority of parents can and do put the children first.

There are three broad categories of parents that should use caution concerning consent custody orders or parenting agreements.  The three major issues are as follows: (1) mental illness; (2) addictions; and (3) domestic violence.

An important question to ask yourself in deciding whether to enter into a parenting agreement (consent order for child custody) with no findings of fact is:  what evidence of facts am I losing by not presenting the bad parenting facts I have in my “arsenal” right now?

A recent case bears special consideration: Robinson vs. Cain, COA15-181 filed October 20, 2015.  In Robinson, the father sought to modify the child custody order of his child born in 2006, so the child would have been nine at the time the Court of Appeals heard the case.

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