Figuring out your parenting agreement may be the most difficult part of your divorce. You and your spouse may both cherish your relationship with your children. Yet, tensions may rise if you two have different ideas about what an ideal custody arrangement looks like.

Keep in mind that North Carolina courts favor agreements that allow both parents to play significant roles in their children’s lives. By putting aside your feelings and focusing on your children, you can create one that reflects their best interests.

How custody works in North Carolina

North Carolina courts prefer divorcing parents to create their own parenting agreement. Yet, you and your spouse may be litigating your divorce. If you are, the court will likely order you to resolve your custody dispute through mediation. Furthermore, one of you may have a history of neglect, domestic violence, substance abuse or mental health issues. In this case, you may end up working out your parenting agreement in court.

Your parenting agreement must reflect the best interests of your children. In determining what these are, you will need to consider how to minimize your divorce’s impact on them. You must make sure your agreement allows consistency in your children’s schedules. If possible, you will also want it to keep them in the community where they are currently based. Your agreement must acknowledge, too, whether you, your spouse or both of you can best meet your children’s basic needs and provide them with the stability they need to thrive.

Possible custody arrangements

As you and your spouse work out your parenting agreement, you must determine if you will have joint physical and legal custody of your children. If you and your spouse decide to have joint physical custody, your children will spend substantial – though not equal – time living with each of you. If you decide to have joint legal custody, you two will share responsibility for making decisions about your children.

After a divorce, parents often have joint legal custody of their children, though one will be their primary physical custodian. While this arrangement may seem unfair, it could help prevent disruptions in your children’s lives. The noncustodial parent – whether you or your spouse – will receive visitation rights, which may include a set number of overnights each week.