What Are Child Custody Laws in North Carolina?

What are the best interests of the child?

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If you live in North Carolina and have gone through a breakup, it's a good idea to know the state's child custody laws. The same advice applies if you and your partner split long ago, but new circumstances necessitate that you rethink custody. One of you may have moved, for example. The child may prefer to live with one of you full time. You may have remarried, prompting concerns from your ex about the best interests of the child.

A North Carolina family court uses several factors to determine child custody. The court will grant joint custody to both parents, sole custody to one person, or sole custody to a third party. In North Carolina, joint custody will be considered if one or both parents request it. Parents who wish to file for custody in North Carolina should first become familiar with the statutes there.

Best Interests of the Child

A court in North Carolina will consider the best interests of the child when making a determination for child custody in North Carolina. The court will consider the following factors in determining a child's best interests:

  • Acts of domestic violence between the parties
  • The safety of the child
  • The safety of either party from domestic violence by the other party

Domestic Violence 

If a North Carolina court finds that domestic violence occurred, the court will order a custody arrangement that best protects the child and the victim of domestic violence.

If a parent relocates with a child due to a domestic violence situation, the parent's absence will not be held against him/her in a child custody proceeding.

Contested Custody Cases

In North Carolina, if child custody is contested, the family court will order the case to mediation. The goals of the mediation are to:

  • Reduce any bad feelings that exist between the parents or the parties in the custody dispute
  • Develop custody and visitation agreements that are in the child's best interests
  • Reduce the possibility of further custody and visitation disputes
  • Provide a non-adversarial and confidential setting that will assist in resolving custody and visitation disputes and minimize the stress and anxiety to which the parents and the child are subjected

Military Parents 

According to North Carolina child custody laws, if a military parent has sole or joint custody of a child and receives deployment papers that involve moving a substantial distance from the parent's home, a North Carolina family court will issue a temporary custody order of the child during the parent's absence, which shall end no later than 10 days following the parent's return.

Modification of Child Custody in North Carolina

In North Carolina, a child custody order may be modified if either parent or another interested party can make a showing of changed circumstances sufficient enough to warrant a change of custody.

For more information about child custody in North Carolina, speak with a qualified attorney in the state or refer to the North Carolina Domestic Relations statue.