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Family Law in North Carolina – Child Custody in North Carolina


In today’s blog entry in our family law in North Carolina series, we are going to take a closer look at child custody in North Carolina. Child custody cases are often some of the most emotional, personal, and stressful cases a person can be involved in because it involves your children. Understanding how courts approach child custody issues, what outcomes might be possible in your situation, and what you can do to protect your interests is essential if you want to go into the process as well prepared as possible.

So, today, we are going to look at some questions many people have about child custody in North Carolina.

How does a court determine child custody in North Carolina?

Many people in North Carolina mistakenly believe that courts give preferential treatment to one parent or another in child custody cases. This isn’t true. In any situation where a court hears a child custody issue, the court has a legal obligation to do what is in the best interests and welfare of the child.

This means that the court will have to take into consideration a number of different issues before it makes a custody ruling. These include, for example, considering the child’s personal safety, the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs, the stability of the home environments, the presence of any domestic violence, and other factors related to the child’s best interests.

What is the difference between custody and visitation?

In years past child custody cases would typically end when a court granted custody to one parent and visitation to the other. Today, however, that distinction has largely gone away. Instead, courts divide custody between parents based on who has primary and who has secondary custody. This essentially divides custody by time, but allows for both parents to have meaningful custodial time with the children, instead of relegating one to the role of a visiting parent.

What is the difference between joint custody, sole custody, physical custody, and legal custody?

Though your attorney will explain these terms in more detail to you, it’s important to understand the different types of custody a North Carolina Court will award. Joint custody means that both parents get to spend time with the children, even though that time isn’t always necessarily equal. Sole custody means that one parent has the sole responsibility for the care and custody of the children.

However, the court can also differentiate between physical and legal custody. Physical custody is the actual physical care of the child, while legal custody is the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child.