During a divorce, the topic of child custody is sensitive and emotional for many parents. If you are going through separation or divorce and are able to agree on how you and your spouse will co-parent, you do not have to file a custody order with the Court.
However, if there is a disagreement between divorcing spouses about the best interests of the child/children, the first step may be co-parenting classes or mediation. If an agreement can still not be reached, the Court will step in and make a determination on what is best for the child/children.
Remember that the Court’s decision will be what they think is in the child’s best interest, so mediation involving child custody must be taken seriously.
#1 The Different Types of Custody
Child Custody involves two main categories: Legal Custody and Physical Custody.
- Legal Custody gives one or both parents the right to make legal decisions for the child. These decisions involve education, health care, religion, and the child’s general welfare.
- Physical Custody relates to where the child resides.
Either or both of these types of custody can be shared under a joint custody arrangement. Typically, under a joint legal custody arrangement, neither parent has a superior right to make major decisions. Instead, joint custody arrangements typically outline a procedure for resolving conflicts.
Joint physical custody does not necessarily require a 50-50 time split between the parents. Joint custody entails any situation where the child maintains a residence at the home of each parent and spends a significant amount of time with each.
#2 Who Can File for Custody
North Carolina allows either parent, step-parents who have legally adopted the child, and grandparents to file a motion for custody or visitation rights.
Child custody and visitation cases in North Carolina can be quite complicated. Get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions here.
#3 How Custody is Determined
The standard for determining child custody in North Carolina is the “best interests of the child.” Though in the past, some states including North Carolina provided that custody of children of “tender years” had to be awarded to the mother, no such presumption exists any longer.
Instead, the courts consider custody without regard to the gender of the parent and consider a number of factors to determine the best interests of the child. These factors include:
- The child’s age, gender, mental health, and physical health;
- The mental and physical health of the parents;
- The lifestyle of the parents;
- The love and emotional ties between the parent and child;
- The parent’s ability to provide for the child (i.e., food, shelter, clothing, medical care);
- The child’s established living pattern considering things like school, home, and community, and religious activities.
- The quality of the schools attended by the children;
- The child’s preferences if any, if the child has the requisite maturity to articulate a reasoned opinion;
- The ability and willingness of the parent to foster healthy communication and contact between the child and the other parent.
Contact An Attorney
If you are considering separation or divorce, it is important to hire an attorney who will work hard to protect the best interests of you and your children. The team of family law attorneys at SeiferFlatow is here to answer your questions about separation, divorce, and custody. Contact us today to set up a consultation: 704-512-0606.