A Temporary Parenting Arrangement ("TPA") in Mecklenburg County, NC is used to preserve the status quo regarding child custody until the matter can be heard for a full permanent custody hearing. In NC, until there is a Court Order in place neither parent has to allow the other parent visitation or contact with the minor child. As it usually takes months to get in front a Judge in North Carolina, the parent without physical possession of the child is in a horrible position until Court. Although this may ultimately backfire on the parent withholding vitiation the damage is already done to the child after going several months without seeing one parent. This is why Mecklenburg County and some other counties in North Carolina (not Union) allow a parent to file a Motion for a Temporary Parenting Arrangement. Continue reading for some frequently asked questions and answers on how to get a relatively fast Court Order to ensure your child or children are not alienated from either parent.
What are the grounds for a Temporary Parenting Arrangement in NC?
The typical scenario is where one parent abruptly moves out and refuses to allow the child any contact with the other parent. Another example is where the parents had some informal joint custody arrangement and then one parent decides to unfairly restrict time with the minor child. Other grounds may include, but are not limited to, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, a move by one parent, or changing of school or daycare of the children.
Can I file for a Temporary Parenting Arrangement in Union County?
As of the date of this blog article the answer is No. Union County ordinarily has both a Temporary Custody hearing and Permanent Custody hearing. The thought process is the Temporary Custody hearing is meant to get you in front of a Judge in a relatively short period of time. In practice child custody mediation is usually mandatory before any hearing, meaning any Temporary hearing usually takes months to be placed on a Court calendar. That being said, Union County and NC in general still do allow for immediate relief if the situation is dire enough to give rise for Emergency Custody.
What is the difference between a TPA and Emergency Custody?
A Temporary Parenting Arrangement was created to address situations that don’t rise to the VERY limited grounds for Emergency Custody. Emergency Custody in North Carolina generally requires one of three scenarios:
When should I file for a TPA?
If you feel you qualify for a Temporary Parenting Arrangement then you should file right away. Waiting only makes it seem as though you don’t consider the situation a priority. Even if you apply today any hearing is usually 2-4 weeks out.
Do I need an attorney?
No attorney is required, but you should at least consult with a local attorney for insight into local custom and practice. Hiring an attorney to attend any future hearing would also be wise as the other side may show up with an attorney leaving you at a distinct disadvantage as to knowing and applying the rules of evidence in a Courtroom.
What happens after I file?
Upon filing and service upon the opposing party, they have seven (7) days to file a written response. After that time period has lapsed the file is generally reviewed by a Judge to determine if the Motion warrants a hearing. Although, the Mecklenburg County local rules allow a Judge to sign an Order without setting an initial hearing that rarely if ever happens in Charlotte.
How do I file for a Temporary Parenting Arrangement?
A Motion for a Temporary Parenting Arrangement must be filed inside a Custody action. If there is no Custody file then you will have to initiate one and file your motion under that file number.
What happens at the hearing?
A hearing on whether to grant a Temporary Parenting Arrangement is usually a quick hearing (1 hour or less) that is quite similar to a Temporary Custody hearing. That being said, your focus should be on the how the status quo has been unilaterally changed by the other parent and why a Parenting Arrangement is necessary, and in the best interest of the child.