Child custody tends to be one of the most contentious issues during divorce or separation. It can also become one of the most costly transactions. However, it is not uncommon for couples to negotiate and settle custody matters privately without having to go through the court process.
Whether custody is settled in or out of court, each parent has equal rights to possession of their children. However, in instances where there is no written agreement establishing custody and visitation rights, either parent can seek legal intervention to claim custody.
How North Carolina courts make child custody rulings
The North Carolina family law states that child custody must be granted in such a way that promotes the child’s welfare and best interest. Most often, the court enjoys a broader discretion to take all the relevant factors into account when determining what would be in the child’s best interest. These relevant factors can include considerations such as the child’s safety as well as any history of domestic violence and drug or substance abuse by either parent.
That said, here are some of the factors the court may take into account when determining what is in the child’s best interest:
- Reasons why the parent is suing for custody, including whether they are motivated by sincere love and affection for the child or simply retaliation against the other parent.
- Whether one parent is out to alienate the child’s affection from the other parent
- Any special needs the child might be having such as mental health and physical needs
- The child’s attachment to their school, home or neighborhood and the emotional impact of removing them from that environment.
- The type and frequency of discipline employed by the parent
Child custody cases are seldom pretty. Whenever parents take to the courtroom to decide who gets custody of the kids, it is usually because they are unable to reach common ground on their own. In the end, the court takes into account the “child’s best interests” when making their ruling. Familiarizing yourself with what these interests are can give you leverage during your child custody case.