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How is child custody decided in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Child Custody |

When people have children together, they often anticipate raising them jointly. They expect to address challenges as they arise and may never sit down together to discuss their plans for parenting. However, relationships don’t always go the way that people anticipate, and couples often either break up or decide to divorce.

Those who share children and who intend to start living separately in North Carolina will typically have to find a way to share custody. Parents going through a major relationship change often have a hard time agreeing with each other about what would be appropriate or reasonable regarding the custody of their children. What ultimately determines the outcome of child custody matters in North Carolina when parents do not agree with each other?

Judges want what is best for the children

North Carolina has a very clear standard established in state family law statutes regarding custody determinations. Specifically, judges should always make the best interests of the children the top priority when deciding how to divide time with the children and how to handle conflict between the parents.

Judges want to see that parents will put the needs of the children first, which usually means cooperating with one another to raise the children. In addition to the parents’ attitudes and behavior at custody hearings, judges will also consider information about their relationship with the children in the family, their schedule and even personal risk factors like addiction that might prevent them from properly parenting the children. Unless there is evidence of serious issues like substance abuse disorders or child abuse, a judge will typically want to give both parents plenty of time with the children. Shared custody arrangements are what the courts usually consider to be in the best interests of the children.

Of course, there are times when the courts will give one parent far more time with the children than the other. One parent’s attempts to alienate the other from the children could harm their chances of a favorable outcome in custody matters, as good inappropriate conduct toward the children, their other parents or court officials.

Parents trying to seek specific terms during North Carolina custody litigation typically need to frame their request in the context of what would be best for the children. Learning more about North Carolina’s custody rules may help people understand what to expect as they prepare for family court.