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An overview of North Carolina's child custody laws

The divorce of two North Carolina parents can result in the creation of a child custody order. Child custody orders establish the responsibilities of the child's parents once they have officially ended their legal union. There are a variety of ways that custody can be divided, and this post will briefly touch on some of the types of child custody arrangements. Readers are reminded, though, that their child custody plans may take on different characteristics as no two familial situations are the same.

First, there are two types of custody that a court may assign in an order: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody covers where a child will live and if they will have visitation time with anyone else. In North Carolina grandparents can petition for visitation time with their grandchildren.

Legal custody does not involve a child's physical placement, but rather the responsibility of their parents to make appropriate decisions for them. The right of a parent to legal custody of their child allows the parent to choose where the child will be educated, if the child will follow a religion and other significant life choices.

Both legal and physical custody can be granted to parents in a joint arrangement where the both share in the responsibilities, or in a sole arrangement where one parent has the prescribed form of custody. A parent who is denied physical custody of their child may be given visitation with them, however.

When deciding how to determine custody a court will look at many factors such as the presence of domestic violence in the home, the preferences of the child regarding their custodial care and the capacity of the parents to provide the child with stability and care. Child custody orders should work toward the best interests of the children who are bound to their terms, and as such are created based on the specific needs of the individual children.

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