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ZBN711

Custody Agreement Translation NC

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I recently received a custody agreement from my ex's lawyer and need some help understanding what is meant by "That it is in the best interest of the minor child for her care, custody, and control to remain with the Defendant subject to reasonable rights of visitation with the Plaintiff as agreed upon by the parties." and "That the Defendant is hereby granted the care, custody, and control of the minor child, namely<my child's name and bday>, subject to reasonable rights of visitation by the Plaintiff as agreed upon by the parties." Does this mean that I get sole custody or something different? I do not speak legalese so it's very confusing to me. 

 

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You need a lawyer before you sign a legal document you do not understand. The "as agreed upon by the parties" is horribly vague. Is there a written agreement between you and your ex? Ex what? In this the defendant, whichever of you that happens to be, would have custody, and the child would visit, presumably on some sort of agreed upon schedule, with the other parent.

 

Your child is way too important for you to wing it and hope for the best.

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I recently received a custody agreement from my ex's lawyer and need some help understanding what is meant by. . . .

 

I'm going to tell you what I think it means.  However, my interpretation (or any other interpretation you get from an anonymous stranger on the Internet) is meaningless.  A custody agreement that is adopted as a court order is interpreted like a contract.  In contract interpretation, the primary rule is to ascertain the mutual intent of the parties.  If possible, that is done by using the plain meaning of the words the parties chose to use in their agreement.  If the words used are ambiguous (i.e., reasonably susceptible of more than one meaning), then there are a bunch of rules that govern how to ascertain the parties' mutual intent.  The problem with one side drafting an agreement and sending it to the other side is that, if there's never any discussion about the meaning of a particular provision, it can be awfully difficult to ascertain mutual intent.  The gist of all this is that, if you have any uncertainty about the meaning of a provision in a proposed agreement, having a discussion (that is either in writing or memorialized in writing) with the other side is a good idea.

 

 

 

"That it is in the best interest of the minor child for her care, custody, and control to remain with the Defendant subject to reasonable rights of visitation with the Plaintiff as agreed upon by the parties."

 

I don't see this as even remotely ambiguous.  The defendant gets physical custody, and the plaintiff gets visitation.  The problem with this provision is that it apparently contains no way of resolving a dispute what constitutes reasonable visitation.  This sort of "open" visitation provision is a recipe for further court proceedings.  In my view, it is best to have a provision that says something like, "if the parties cannot agree on visitation, then the following visitation schedule shall be followed:  ____."

 

 

 

"That the Defendant is hereby granted the care, custody, and control of the minor child, namely<my child's name and bday>, subject to reasonable rights of visitation by the Plaintiff as agreed upon by the parties."

 

This seems to be the same thing, and I'm guessing the first quoted sentence is in the "agreement" part of this document and that this part is in a proposed order.

 

 

 

Does this mean that I get sole custody or something different? I do not speak legalese so it's very confusing to me. 

 

Well...it means exactly what it says (as I explained above), and I'm not sure why you care about a label like "sole custody."  I'm also not sure why you think any of this is "legalese."  The language you quoted is full of very simple, easily understood English terms.  "Sole custody," on the other hand, is "legalese" (and, in fact, based on a quick search of the applicable North Carolina statutes, isn't a term that has any fixed meaning).  So...what is it that you don't understand about the quoted language, and why do you care if the quoted language does or doesn't amount to "sole custody"?

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