On today’s 2 Wants to Know, we spoke with attorneys Hilary Hux and Sam Viscuso to get answers on all things family law.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Family law can get complicated. We spoke with family law attorneys Hilary Hux and Sam Viscuso to answer your family law questions.
COURT PROCEEDINGS DURING COVID-19:
How do you prepare yourself and your client for a virtual court proceeding?
You want to approach a virtual court proceeding just like you would a live hearing in the courtroom. Take it seriously and show up early. Dress professionally and depending on where you are, office or home, try to avoid distractions like children, pets, cellphones. Test your technology (Zoom, Webex) the day before to avoid last-minute issues. Have a professional background behind you.
How can a client be assured that the attorney-client privilege is protected during a remote proceeding?
The attorney-client privilege still applies in any virtual setting to the same extent it would during an in-person court proceeding. Judges are generally very accommodating when it comes to privilege issues. So for example, if the client needs to consult during a Webex or Zoom hearing, you can use a “break-out” virtual meeting room or you and the client can mute the microphone and have a quick phone call with the judge’s permission. Basically, whatever is necessary to facilitate the same protections for the client’s rights that would ordinarily apply in a real courtroom.
What do North Carolina courts consider when parents are fighting over child custody issues?
The NC Court of Appeals has made it crystal clear that the most important consideration in a custody case is the child’s best interests. Yes, generally speaking, both parents have some constitutionally protected rights to the care, custody, and control of minor children. However, in custody disputes, litigants should understand that courts will go out of their way to make sure children are taken care of. So it’s often critical to remind clients in a custody dispute – set aside your ego, set aside your frustration with the other parent and focus on the children.
What happens if I’m a divorced parent and I disagree with my ex about vaccinating my child?
Viscuso said this depends on who has legal custody of the child. If you have joint custody with your ex, you need to come to an agreement. If one parent has legal custody, they get to make medical decisions.
“Legal custody here in North Carolina at least means which parent has the authority to make legal life decisions for the minor children.” Viscuso said. “So, where they go to school, what type of religious practices that they have, what type of medical treatments that they receive, what’s appropriate.
Those are the decisions that are allowed to be made when you have legal custody.”
How long do you need to be separated before getting a divorce?
Hux said you need to wait 365 days before filing for divorce.
“By separated, we mean actually living in two separate households with the intent to not resume that marital relationship,” Hux said.