Child Custody

North Carolina

What is Child Custody? 

Child custody refers to the legal and practical rights and responsibilities of a parent regarding their child’s upbringing, including decisions about residence, education, healthcare, and general well-being. Custody arrangements can be determined through court decisions or mutual agreements between parents, aiming to ensure the child’s best interests are prioritized.

What types of Custody are there?

Legal Custody

Legal custody is the right to make important decisions about a child’s life, such as those related to health, education, and religion. It can be granted primarily to one parent or shared between both parents.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is about deciding where the child will live and how time is shared between parents, with one parent often being the main caretaker. It determines who the child stays with most of the time.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is when one parent has full responsibility for the child, and the other parent has little or no visitation rights. This occurs if it’s proven that one parent is neglectful or abusive to the child, which is exceedingly rare .  

Joint Custody

Joint Custody is when both parents share taking care of their child and spending time with them, usually having an equal number of nights. It involves parents working together to make decisions and ensuring the child has a good relationship with both.

Split Custody

When one child lives mostly with one parent, and another sibling lives mostly with the other parent. This happens when both parents agree to separate the children’s living arrangements.

The Only Goal: The Child’s Best Interest.

The concept of a child’s best interest in a child custody case refers to the principle that the court aims to make decisions that are most favorable for the well-being, development, and overall welfare of the child involved. The determination of a child’s best interest is a subjective assessment made by the court, taking into account various factors that may influence the child’s life. Some common factors considered in assessing a child’s best interest include:

  • Primary Caretaker: The court may evaluate which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver, responsible for daily care, nurturing, and support.
  • Child’s Wishes: If the child is of an age where their opinions can be considered, the court may take into account the child’s preferences regarding custody arrangements.
  • Health and Well-being of Parents: The physical and mental health of each parent is often considered, ensuring that the child is placed in a stable and supportive environment.
  • Religious and Moral Upbringing: The court may examine how each parent intends to provide for the child’s religious and moral upbringing, considering the child’s cultural background and values.
  • Facilitation of Relationships: The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage and facilitate a positive relationship between the child and the other parent or relevant family members are crucial.
  • Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence: Evidence of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or a history of domestic violence may impact custody decisions to ensure the child’s safety.
  • Relationship with Other Household Members: The court may consider the relationships the child has with other members of each parent’s household.
  • Education: The educational opportunities available to the child, including the willingness of each parent to support the child’s academic needs.

These factors are not exhaustive, and the court may consider additional aspects based on the specific circumstances of each case. The overarching goal is to determine a custody arrangement that prioritizes the child’s best interests and promotes their overall well-being. It’s important to note that the emphasis is on the child’s needs rather than the desires or interests of the parents.


Some states may lean towards awarding custody to the primary caretaker of the child. The primary caretaker is typically the parent who is responsible for the child’s direct care, as evidenced by various factors that indicate their involvement in the child’s daily life. These factors may include:

  • Bathing, Grooming, and Dressing: The parent who actively engages in and takes responsibility for the child’s personal care, including bathing, grooming, and dressing.

  • Cooking, Feeding, and Meal Planning: The parent involved in preparing meals, ensuring proper nutrition, and planning the child’s dietary needs.

  • Health Care Appointments: The parent who takes the child to doctor and other health care provider appointments, demonstrating an active role in the child’s healthcare.

  • Educational Involvement: The parent who is actively engaged in the child’s educational activities, such as helping with homework, attending school events, and participating in parent-teacher meetings.

  • Extracurricular Activities and Sports: The parent who supports and facilitates the child’s participation in extracurricular activities and sports.


For more information on Child Custody In NC, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (704) 862-0148 today.


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