Joint vs. Sole Custody in North Carolina

A man and woman sitting next to each other. Each holds a ripped piece of paper with a drawing of a child on it

Determining the Key Differences

Many important decisions need to be made when divorcing in North Carolina. One of the most significant decisions that need to be made is child custody. There are two primary types of custody that need to be decided upon: physical custody and legal custody.

However, even within those types are two arrangements: joint and sole custody. Continue reading to learn the key differences between joint custody and sole custody in North Carolina.

Joint Custody

In joint custody arrangements, both parents typically share decision-making responsibilities for their child. This includes decisions about education, health care, and extracurricular activities. In some cases, one parent may have primary decision-making authority on certain issues while the other parent has secondary authority.

Joint custody arrangements can be either joint physical custody or joint legal custody. Joint physical custody means that the child lives with both parents equally. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to make decisions about the child’s welfare, even if the child lives primarily with one parent.

North Carolina courts will generally presume that joint custody is in the child's best interests. However, there are some situations where joint custody may not be appropriate, such as when there is a history of abuse.

Sole Custody

Sole custody in North Carolina can be either physical or legal and means that one parent is given primary responsibility for the child's well-being. Sole physical custody means that the child lives with only one parent while the other parent has visitation rights. In comparison, sole legal custody gives one parent the right to make decisions related to the child's welfare, including education and medical care. In some cases, a parent may have sole physical custody but joint legal custody with the other parent.

In order to get sole custody in North Carolina, a parent must file a petition with the court and show that it is in the best interest of the child. The court will consider which parent has been the primary caretaker, whether both parents can provide a stable home environment, and any history of abuse or neglect.

Sole custody is not always permanent. If the circumstances of either parent change, either parent can petition the court to modify the custody arrangement. For example, if one parent relocates or gets a new job that requires frequent travel, the other parent may request that physical custody be changed to joint custody.

Work With a Child Custody Attorney

Working with a child custody attorney can be highly beneficial when deciding on joint or sole custody matters in North Carolina. An experienced attorney will be familiar with North Carolina's laws and can help you navigate the legal process. They can also provide wisdom on how to best approach your situation and advocate on your behalf.

At Blood Law, PLLC, we know how important it is to meet your child's needs. We will work tirelessly to ensure that the final outcome serves your child's best interests.

Learn more about child custody matters in North Carolina or schedule a consultation by calling us at (704) 286-0570 or by visiting us online.

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