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How is child custody determined in North Carolina?

Child custody is likely on the minds of many North Carolina parents who are going through the divorce process. For that reason, it can be helpful for divorcing parents to be familiar with how child custody is determined so they can better understand how they child custody concerns may be resolved.

How child custody is determined in North Carolina

Child custody is determined with the goal of what is in the best interests of the child by the careful consideration of a variety of child custody factors including:

  • The child’s overall safety and any history of domestic violence or abuse;
  • The child’s current living arrangement and the need for continuity;
  • The child’s relationship with each of its parents;
  • The ability of each of the parents to care for the child; and
  • If each parent can create a stable home for the child

In addition, the family law court may consider the age of the child and the child’s healthcare and educational needs. It is important to keep in mind that both physical and legal custody of the child will need to be resolved. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and legal custody refers to who makes important decisions for the child. Either type of custody can be joint, or shared, or sole custody. Typically, if one parent has sole physical custody of the child, the other parent will be awarded visitation of the child.

Navigating the legal system over child custody issues

Child custody can be complex and emotional but what is best for the child and in the child’s best interests will always be used as the rubric to guide child custody decisions. Parents should not forget this and it can be helpful to keep the factors used to determine child custody in North Carolina in mind when settling their child custody concerns and developing their child custody arrangement.