Issues involving children are, by their nature, very complicated. Parents, guardians, and lawyers potentially need to consider safety, visitation, background checks, parental rights, child support payments, and most importantly, the child’s best interests all at once. Settling issues of child custody and adoption can seem daunting, but with the right attorney, the processes look much more manageable. Time can be of the essence, especially in custody cases, so please don’t hesitate to call (919)-335-5291 to speak to a member of our family law team for a consultation. We’re here to listen to your individual case and needs so that you have no reason to worry.

No matter what your situation is, we will give you prompt attention, regular updates, and clear explanations regarding developments in your case. Call us anytime at (919)-335-5291 for a consultation with a lawyer.

*Free consultations are limited to 30 minutes. Any time after that will be billed in tenths of the hour at the attorney’s hourly rate.

Adoption

Undoubtedly a very exciting time in your life, adoption can also be a complex one. Between terminations of parental rights to background checks, It seems like there’s a mountain of things to think about. But if you break it down, the process doesn’t look so bad.

About 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. The main issue in all of these cases is parental rights. For a child to be put up for adoption, it must be the case that the parents have relinquished their parental rights to the child.

Child Custody

If a child is in an unsafe environment and needs to be relocated, a third party claims that the acting parents are unfit, or there is a divorce, issues of child custody inevitably arise. Along with child custody come negotiations regarding visitation and child support. Winning these negotiations depends on proving one potential parent as being in a better position to provide care for the child. Like all issues involving children, the child’s best interest is the most important thing in consideration.

Child Support

Once custody has been defined, there’s still the question of financial support. Discussing child support depends largely on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. These can be found online and delineate who pays child support, how much, and for what purpose. At the Matheson Law Office, our family law team understands these guidelines and knows how to apply them to your case. We will negotiate child support payments on your behalf after a custody battle, or we can help you adjust an agreement. The more preparation you can get before a custody/support hearing, the better, so don’t hesitate to call us as soon as you can.

Emancipation

If a child does not want to be under the authority of his/her parents, he/she may petition for emancipation. Once emancipated, a child can freely make his/her own life choices and decisions. Emancipation, in effect, considers one to be an adult before reaching the age of 18. The parents are usually notified of the process when it begins.

To receive emancipation, a child must prove that he/she is of a certain age and that he/she is able to take care of himself/herself. This means that a child must prove financial stability or ability to provide shelter.

In determining whether a child deserves emancipation, the court will consider the degree to which the child can support himself/herself alone and the maturity that the child displays. Emancipation can be granted if a child is determined to be sufficiently mature so as to be able to make sound decisions and capable enough to survive alone.

Just like in child custody, the minor’s best interest is taken into account in this procedure. If a child would be better off alone (due to abuse or poor decision making by parents), emancipation is more likely to be granted. But just like custody, there are various nuances to determining what would be in the best interest of the child.

Guardianships

Sometimes it is the case that parents do not want to relinquish parental rights over a child, but they want the child to be taken care of by someone else for a time period. It could also be true that someone who has agreed to take care of a child temporarily or permanently does not want to be the child’s explicit parent. In both cases, guardianship is a solution that would satisfy all parties. A legal guardian has all the duties of a parent, but he/she is not an explicit parent. Legally, this can have several consequences.

Parents have complete control over decisions for the child with the assumption that they care about the child’s best interests. This means they can make decisions as to the child’s well-being and also financial decisions (like investments) on behalf of the child. Guardians, on the other hand, have specific rights granted by their status.

Guardians of the person, or physical guardians, are given control over decisions affecting the child’s well being, and they can also give permission for the child to get married, join the military, or enroll in school. Guardians of the estate, or legal guardians, are able to make decisions regarding the child’s financial assets (the estate). General guardians are granted both of these responsibilities.

If a guardian is named, there is still a legal bond between the biological parents and the child. This means that the parents are still required to provide financial support for the child even though the physical guardian might be the one with physical custody.

Modifications

Sometimes it turns out that circumstances change and you need modifications to agreements. We understand that life happens and changes might be necessary for the well being of both parties. Our team is fully prepared to discuss with you and argue for:

  • Lower child support payments
  • Increased visitation rights
  • Adjustments to custody agreements
  • And anything else you want to ask about!

It’s not a bad thing to need a change like these. It’s much better to get one and get more freedom in an agreement than to miss deadlines.