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Understanding child custody in North Carolina

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2022 | Child Custody

Child custody decisions put a lot of stress on divorcing couples. Although they want what is best for the child, the parents also sometimes let their emotions and own wants get in the way.

Parents can make their own custody arrangements. However, if they cannot come to an agreement, the courts will make it for them, considering what is in the best interest of the child.

General information about custody and visitation

According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch, there is no requirement to have a custody order. Without one, both parents have equal rights regarding the child, but there are limited rights for non-parents, such as grandparents.

For custody orders, there is legal and physical custody. Legal refers to important decisions, such as healthcare, education and religion, while physical refers to whom the child lives with. There can be sole or joint custody for both.

Visitation is another term used in custody orders. Often used when one parent has physical custody, it refers to times that the other parent can visit or see the child.

Factors considered when making custody decisions

Whether parents make a decision, or the courts do, the factors considered should be what is best for the child. FindLaw discusses some of the important considerations. Along with the child’s happiness and safety, factors to consider include:

  • Mental and physical health of the child and each parent
  • The needs of the child
  • The ability of each parent to provide a home and basic necessities
  • Adjustments to community and school
  • The child’s interactions with grandparents and other members of the household
  • Use of excessive discipline by either parent

The court also looks at if there is emotional or physical abuse, or drug use, in the home.