Domestic Violence Impacts Everyone

Domestic Violence Impacts Everyone

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a good reminder that not everyone is in a caring and safe environment. An estimated 10 million people a year in the U.S. are physically abused by an intimate partner. This harm may come in form of physical, sexual, psychological abuse. Domestic violence or intimate partner violence (IPV) crosses all demographics and socioeconomic levels. It is about power and control over another person. Both women and men may be victims. While there are some commonalities among abusers (low self-esteem, drug or alcohol use, a desire for power or control, or a history of family abuse, among others), you cannot identify an abuser simply on sight. In some cases, abuse may come later in a relationship based on a trigger event such as the loss of a job or increased relationship stress. “Domestic violence costs $8.3 billion in expenses annually: a combination of higher medical costs ($5.8 billion) and lost productivity ($2.5 billion).” ~Forbes Warning Signs of Domestic Violence In many cases, there will be early warning signs that an individual may become abusive. These behaviors may include: Controlling access to your friends or family or expressing jealousy of your relationships with others Pushing, shoving, or hitting Yelling at you or threatening you Making demeaning comments or putting you down Attempting to control finances/spending Destroying your belongings Leaving you in an unfamiliar location Threatening your children or pets Find other possible warning signs here. Abusers often begin these patterns of behavior as teens, so parents should be aware of the signs your child may be in an abusive relationship. Talk to your teens...
How Is Child Custody Determined in North Carolina?

How Is Child Custody Determined in North Carolina?

The best child custody agreements come from cooperation between the two parents based on their decision to do what is in the best interests of their child (or children). When the parents are not able to agree, the North Carolina courts will determine custody based on the best interests of the child. Without a written agreement, both parents have equal rights – neither is protected should the other parent make a decision on an important issue where the parents disagree. What factors may be considered by the courts in deciding custody? If the parents are unable to come up with a voluntary custody arrangement, a civil district court judge will be assigned to the case. He or she will consider such things as: The age of the child and presence of siblings The relationship between each parent and the child The relationship between the child and siblings The ability of each parent to care for the child (physically, emotionally, and financially) The stability of the home Which parent is the primary caregiver (this may have higher weight with a younger child) The safety of the child and any history of domestic violence Child care arrangements Limiting change in the child’s life (i.e., changing school districts) Sexual conduct of the parent IF the child is negatively impacted The child’s wishes MAY be considered, however there is no requirement in North Carolina that the judge do so North Carolina no longer favors the mother over the father for custody. The combined review of all factors above should be taken into account by the judge. If you believe the other parent to...
Custody Issues | Planning for Summer Vacation

Custody Issues | Planning for Summer Vacation

If you are separated or divorced and have children, spring may become a stressful time as you work through custody issues and planning for summer vacation. Child custody agreements are typically spelled out in detail – often down to the specific time the children must be returned to the other parent. While this level of detail can protect the rights of each parent – especially in situations where the separation was not amicable – life sometimes gets in the way! Summer vacation may mean summer camp, visits to see grandparents, sports activities, special trips or even summer school. The standard school-year schedule no longer applies, but the custody agreement remains in force.  What happens if the kids are supposed to go out of state to visit dad for a month but one child has to attend summer school? What if the 10 days at summer science camp junior wants to attend cut into mom’s time? Here are some suggestions to help make planning for the summer a bit less stressful: Plan ahead. The more advance notice you have to adjust schedules, the easier it will be on everyone. Be reasonable. We often see situations where the parents are so at odds they will refuse a request for a schedule change even when it is reasonable and they have no conflicts that would cause issues. Step back and consider the impact to your child. A lot of stress and hurt feelings may be avoided if both parents make equal accommodations for the child’s benefit. Set priorities. Your child’s health and safety come first. Education is also important. If there is...
5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Guardian

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Guardian

When you find out you are expecting, the initial excitement is followed by a lot of planning and a long to-do list! One of the things you should include on that list is a decision on who will care for your child (or children) if you are no longer able to do so. While most children will be raised to adulthood by one or both parents, you must take steps to ensure your children are protected in the event of your death or disability. Here are five things to consider when you name a guardian for your minor children. Note many of these considerations also apply when naming a guardian for adult dependents. Don’t presume a family member will be the best choice. Many new parents just assume their parents or siblings will be the best guardian. This may be true in many cases, however you need to consider the person’s physical and emotional health, lifestyle, religious beliefs, financial situation, etc. Look also at extended family members and friends who may be a good match. Perfection is a myth, so decide up front which values are most important to you. Talk to the person or people you’re considering and make certain they are able and willing to take on this responsibility. Everyone is put in an awful position if you name a guardian who is unwilling or unable to raise your kids. Ask them to let you know if their situation changes down the road. It’s not a bad idea to name a back-up guardian, just in case. If the person you would like to name is wonderful in...
North Carolina Says eNOugh | Domestic Violence Awareness

North Carolina Says eNOugh | Domestic Violence Awareness

Domestic violence is a worldwide problem that crosses racial, age and socio-economic barriers. North Carolina began their “eNOugh” campaign in 2012 to bring awareness to the problem of domestic violence. Statistics from eNOugh’s website report 1 in 4 women experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner. It’s not just women who experience abuse by an intimate partner; an estimated 15% of cases involve men. The impact goes further than the individuals involved. Nationally, estimates show employers lose $5 billion a year due to intimate partner violence; and domestic violence is the number one cause of homelessness for women and children. The NC Department of Justice reported 108 murders in 2013 classified as domestic violence, with Guilford and Mecklenburg Counties leading the way. Entire families and communities are impacted by this violence. Signs of Abuse Physical abuse may not happen at the beginning of a relationship, but there are often signs that an individual may have a “battering personality.” These can include jealousy, controlling behavior, placing blame on others, pushing you to move too quickly in a relationship, breaking objects, or abusing animals and children (lacking empathy). Verbal abuse is another sign, including verbal put-downs or embarrassing you in public. Abusers want to control your life, and may interfere with relationships between you and your family or friends, refuse to allow you to work or go out by yourself, threaten you or your loved ones, or even threaten to commit suicide. A great resource with additional information is The National Domestic Violence Hotline™ (www.thehotline.org or 1-800-799-SAFE). Teens & Children When children are raised in an environment where domestic...