Served with summons for child custody, support

Dear JsMommiiieee:

Greetings. It is unlikely that the court will totally change custody in this situation in my opinion - but they may force you to communicate differently, place your child in public school, give your ex more a say in the child’s life. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax

301 McCullough Drive Suite 510
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax

1829 East Franklin Street, Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919.321.0780 main phone
919.787.6668 main fax


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

Our divorce decree (granted in Wash., DC, Sep. 2001) found me a “fit and proper custodian” and I was awarded “permanent custody” of our daughter who will soon be 10. She has been in my physical care and custody her whole life. Her father–the non-custodial parent or NCP–was granted reasonable visitation.

Today I got a summons for custody and support at my residence in NC.

I have lived in NC for approx 16 months. In Oct. 2006, I went to Child Support Enforcement (CSE) to have my order transferred to this state.

I originally filed in DC (where we resided at that time) in Dec 2001. The NCP resided in NV where the case was adjudicated. NV caps child support so although NCP’s monthly salary was $6,000 a month, NCP was only ordered to pay $559 a month and $41 for arrears until current.

side note: NCP is currently married and his wife gave birth in mid-Jan. 2007. They reside in a suburb of a large midwestern city.

NCP was in my area on business on the day of my CSE appointment. I called NCP from CSE to ask if he could make time to appear before a judge the next day since he was already in the general area. (I wanted to have this matter taken care of as swiftly as possible, knowing how long interstate child support cases can take.) NCP did not acknowledge my request in time for us to meet with a judge.

In Nov. 2006, I got a phone call from NCP where he expressed concern for our daughter’s welfare, primarily her education. NCP based his concern on actions (or lack thereof) observed during his visits with our daughter (all taking place on weekend vacations/holidays). NCP also made the comment “I need more say in __________'s life.”

side note: At my husband’s suggestion, I began home schooling when we moved to NC. I have my daughter’s (standardized) test scores since 1st grade. I don’t believe her most recent scores show any significant deviation from progress when compared to previous years scores.

The Nov. 2006 discussion deteriorated and ended with NCP threatening to pursue joint custody. I have not spoken with NCP since that discussion. I have only communicated with him via e-mail. I have spoken with and e-mailed his wife regarding general matters.

Today I get the summons. One of the “factual allegations” states that “the minor child is no longer receiving an adequate education and it is in the best interests of the child that the Father be granted primary custody”.

Past problems with me receiving child support, a general disinterest over the years in our daughter’s day-to-day activities on the part of the NCP, and the timing of these actions (after I filed to have my case moved to NC) all lead me to believe the phone call and subsequent actions are a direct result of the NCP’s financial situation and his desire to ultimately escape paying child support.

I believe that a child support order issued in this state will require him to pay more than he is currently ordered to pay, thus increasing the burden on NCP’s already over-burdened pay check. I also noticed that the complaint specifies that I must pay all costs if he gets custody.

In the past several years, NCP has visited with our daughter approximately three (3) times per year, for long weekends. NCP and wife both work full time demanding jobs that do not allow either of them to realistically have more time to spend with our daughter than they do now, which I mentioned when he threatened with pursuing joint custody.

I have no criminal history, no history of drug use/abuse, there is no abuse/neglect going on in my household, nor any allegations of any of the above.

I have family members who have been in the area 10+ years, all of whom are property owners; my grandmother relocated here two months after we did. So we have strong community ties to this area. NCP and wife recently moved to their neighborhood and have no family there. NCP is not a US citizen and I believe his nearest family members live closer to us. His wife’s family is several hundred miles away as well, and again, they live closer to us.

Based on the information provided, what is the precedent in this state for custody being granted to the current NCP?

I know I need to get an attorney for this matter and I would be happy to accept any referrals.

Thank you in advance.