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What are the 2 types of custody parents can potentially share after divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2024 | Child Custody |

The choice to divorce in North Carolina means accepting numerous changes to one’s family unit. Some of the most stressful changes for families involve minor children. Parents in North Carolina typically need to share custody if they divorce while their children still live at home. It can be quite difficult for parents to agree on custody matters, especially because people are often unfamiliar with state statutes.

They may then have unrealistic ideas about what rights they have during custody proceedings. In North Carolina, parents can mutually agree or judges will make determinations about two distinct types of custody.

Parents can potentially share legal and physical custody

Discussions about custody matters often focus primarily on physical custody. Physical custody has to do with the children’s needs and spending time with them. Most parenting plans very clearly divide physical custody between the two adults in the family.

The parent with physical custody at any given moment is the one responsible for taking care of the children. If one child must come home from school because they have the flu, the parent with physical custody is the one who likely needs to leave work and pick them up from class. Shared physical custody is standard in most divorce cases, although judges may limit physical custody in cases where a parent has proven to be volatile or cannot provide a stable living environment for the children.

Legal custody refers to the authority that parents have over their children. Until a young adult is a legal adult, their parents make choices about the medical attention that they receive, the religious practices they follow and the education they undergo. Parents often have to share that authority along with parenting time.

Shared custody is standard

Most North Carolina divorce cases result in a judge dividing both physical and legal custody between the parents. The adults have a certain amount of time with the children and generally need to agree with one another about important parenting decisions. In some cases, one parent might have more time with the children and more say in any relevant decisions. Occasionally, either due to mutual agreement or unsafe circumstances, one parent may have sole custody.

Judges typically seek to establish custody orders that uphold the best interests of the children. Such arrangements typically entail keeping both parents actively involved. Those hoping for a ruling that deviates from shared custody expectations may need evidence supporting their claim that sole custody arrangements might be in the best interests of their children.

Learning more about North Carolina’s custody laws may benefit parents who are worried about upcoming family law negotiations. Presenting their case in the right way can increase the likelihood of a positive outcome in the event of contested custody proceedings. Parents who understand the types of custody available can better develop their cases for negotiations or family court.