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Custody in North Carolina: The basics

If you're seeking a divorce, child custody provisions are probably on your mind. Who is going to have a better chance of being the main provider for your child? Will you have your child living with you, or will the child's other parent get to have primary custody? Your attorney can help you make your case for keeping custody of your child, but some common information may help you better understand the situation.

In North Carolina, the child custody laws of the state are similar to those in others, but there will always be a few variations. The state does recognize two kinds of custody, legal and physical.

With legal custody, the parent can make decisions about the child's life and welfare. That parent has the exclusive ability to make decisions about a child's religious instruction, medical care and other aspects of his life. Both parents can share this responsibility, but there are cases when one may have legal custody alone.

Physical custody is different because it refers to the parent who resides with the child. Joint physical custody is possible, and a child may live at both houses. In cases where a child doesn't live with both parents, visitation is how the other parent gets to see the child. Visitation can be scheduled visits, the legal right to be at educational or sporting events, and so on.

Custody is determined by looking at some basic issues. What's the child's current living arrangement? What is the child's relationship like with each parent? Can one of the parents provide a more stable home environment for the child, or can both? Who is the child more likely to be safe with? These are all questions a court may ask to make a decision on child custody.

Source: FindLaw, "North Carolina Child Custody Laws," accessed Feb. 12, 2016

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