If two parents are not living together or are getting divorced, they will need to determine how they will share custody of their child. In most situations, joint custody will be awarded, and parents will need to decide on a specific shared arrangement and schedule. However, while joint custody is the norm in North Carolina, there are cases in which one parent decides to seek sole custody of a child. Courts only award sole custody in limited situations, and you should discuss whether seeking sole custody is the right option for you with your trusted custody lawyer.
How Courts Determine Custody
It is rare for one parent to relinquish custody rights voluntarily. This means that if you decide to pursue sole custody, your case will likely go before the court for the judge to rule on the custody issue. The law requires courts to make custody determinations based on what is in the best interests of the child.
Generally speaking, the law presumes that maintaining healthy relationships with both parents is in the best interests of a child. This is why courts tend to award joint custody. However, there are many factors a judge will consider, and there are certain situations in which seeking joint custody might be the right decision.
Joint custody might put the child at risk of harm – In some cases, one parent might have engaged in domestic violence or child abuse, and you might believe that time alone with that parent might result in emotional or physical harm to your child. This is a common situation in which sole custody is awarded. In fact, if you have a protective order against the other parent due to domestic abuse, the order might prohibit contact between the parent and the child for a certain period of time, making joint custody impossible.
The other parent is unfit to care for the child – Some parents might not be trusted to properly care for a child due to mental illness, substance abuse issues, or other similar factors. If a parent has a history of neglecting a child or otherwise being unfit to provide proper care for the child, they might be denied custody rights. In extreme situations, the parent might have their parental rights terminated, especially if there is no sign that their circumstances and abilities to parent will change in the future.
The parents live far away – Having a child regularly travel long distances for shared custody can be detrimental to the child. If the other parent decides to move far away, the court might award you sole custody and might decide on a visitation schedule for the other parent, such as for a few weeks in the summer.
Learn How A Charlotte Child Custody Attorney Can Help
Sole custody is only granted in limited circumstances in North Carolina, and you should always discuss your custody case with an experienced Charlotte family law attorney at Blood Law. Contact us regarding any questions or concerns about divorce, custody, and other related matters.