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Child custody considerations in North Carolina

Under North Carolina law, there are different types of child custody. The main types are joint custody and sole custody. As is always true when considering child custody, what is in the best interests of the child is the guiding principle when determining child custody. However, North Carolina courts also consider the child's wishes, which may not necessarily be the same as the solution the court determines is in the child's best interests.

The court considers several factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child including the child's living arrangement; the child's relationship with parents; the ability of each parent to care for the child; the ability of the parents to create a stable home for the child; and the child's safety, among other factors. There are two primary types of child custody including physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions for the child including decisions related to the child's education, the child's religious upbringing and the child's medical care and treatment. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with.

Joint custody is one type of child custody arrangement that is less common than it once was. Currently, it is more common for one parent to have physical custody of the child and the other parent to have visitation. The arrangement is considered less disruptive for the child. Joint custody refers to when parents share custody and sole custody refers to when one parent has custody, either legal or physical. Commonly, parents will share legal custody and one parent will have sole physical custody of the child while the other parent enjoys visitation.

Child custody is a significant concern for many parents. Because of that, the family law process provides resources to help families reach child custody arrangements that are best for the child and work for the family.

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