How Do Courts Determine Child Custody?

Deciding child custody is one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of divorce. Neither parent wants to give up time with their children. That is understandable, but that can make forming a custody agreement very contentious. It is when parents disagree about child custody that courts get involved with the situation.

Courts generally prefer parents to reach an agreement suitable for everyone involved. If the parents cannot agree, the court will begin the procedure outlined in North Carolina law to determine custody. 

What do courts consider?

When children are involved in a divorce, one or both parents usually request a certain type of custody. The options can include joint or sole custody, as well as physical and legal custody. 

However, regardless of the type, courts always consider certain variables when determining custody including:

  • The time each parent spends with the child
  • The time each parent spends working
  • The child’s current living situation
  • A history of domestic violence

The court calculates these and other factors to define the specific details of the custody agreement. 

The best interest of the child

Even though North Carolina courts consider many factors when determining child custody, the most important element of the decision is what is in the best interest of the child. This holds more weight than all of the other factors. 

Divorce already has significant emotional tolls on the parents divorcing, and that impact can be even more substantial for a child. The court focuses on the best interest of the child to reduce the emotional impact and maintain the stability of the child’s life in this time of change. 

It is important to remember that custody is not a competition. Looking out for your child’s best interest now can help safeguard your future relationship with them.