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Is an Uncontested Custody Order Right For You?

Times are changing. Parents, especially single parents, are looking at the big picture and the final product, the custody order. This is in contrast to the way so many parents used to resolve cases before the economic downturn several years ago. Now, people are thinking twice about spending the time, money and heart-ache of traditional trials unless it is truly necessary. An uncontested child custody order means both parents agree on matters related to child custody and neither parent wants a judge to make a ruling after a trial. An order like this is useful where parents have an agreed-upon schedule, including regular visitation times, holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, special occasions and summer vacation. 

Court Orders v. Informal Agreements

If parents do not have a formal signed agreement such as a separation agreement or a court order, the law presumes both parents have equal rights, such as visitation rights. In some ways, it means neither has any rights against the other because there is no tie-breaker to make a final decision in a dispute. Parents are always free to file a lawsuit for custody and litigate their case in court. But sometimes when parents have a regular schedule they use, they are fairly comfortable with the honor system but they worry about what will happen if the other parent stops abiding by it. For example, the co-parenting relationship can suddenly change when a parent begins dating someone seriously or gets married. 

An Overview of Court Orders 

A child custody order is signed by a judge, either after a contested trial or by consent without the need for a judge to make a ruling (i.e., a consent order). Like all custody orders, an uncontested custody order can be enforced by the contempt power of the court if a parent intentionally violates it when he or she has the ability to comply with it. Also like all custody orders, if there is a significant change in circumstances in the family in the future, the court can revisit the order to decide whether it should be changed accordingly. Another benefit of court orders is they can be registered in other states if a parent relocates. All custody orders remain in effect until a child reaches the age of majority, age eighteen in North Carolina. 

The Role of the Attorney

This type of legal service is called unbundling, which means an attorney is hired to do one specific task instead of doing everything from start to finish. Instead of the traditional representation, such as negotiation, civil discovery and a trial, we complete the process necessary to obtain an uncontested custody order. It is important to understand that an attorney can only represent one parent, even if the parents agree to the terms of a custody order. Of course the other parent has the right to have his or her attorney review the order.

Our Flat Fee & Court Costs  

In response to numerous calls we’ve received from parents seeking to merely formalize their informal agreements with child custody orders, we’re now offering professional services to do just that by charging a flat fee combined with a payment plan. But, this service applies when the parents agree on the terms of the order, not if they are negotiating with each other.        

Our fee for an uncontested child custody order is $2,500.00 which includes a 30 minute child custody consultation and the cost for one attempt to serve the other parent by certified mail. If no previous lawsuit was filed in your case, you must also pay the court costs to file one. The current cost paid to the courts to file the lawsuit is $225.00 although the state periodically increases court costs. In certain circumstances, the courts also charge $20.00 to schedule a date for the judge to sign the order. Court costs are unrelated to our fee. We also offer a payment plan for uncontested custody orders. We require $1,000.00 to be paid at the time we are hired, along with payment of any court costs. The remaining $1,500.00 in fees may be paid at the rate of $250.00 per month for six months, beginning thirty days after the original payment is made. All payments may be made by credit card via our secure client portal.

Look at school calendars for Pitt County Schools and local private schools

Look at Custody and Visitation Topics to Address

* We reserve the right to change fees/costs by revising or removing this page from our “client portal” page on our web site.  

Amy A. Edwards is a family law attorney in Greenville, NC, certified by the NC State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist, and is licensed only in NC. Laws change. This article is current as of August 2016. 

www.AmyEdwardsFamilyLaw.com © 2016.  

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