In North Carolina, decisions regarding child custody are made based on the “best interest of the child” standard. As it is generally agreed upon that the active involvement of both parents can greatly benefit children, courts will typically look to award joint custody whenever it is feasible. In fact, sole custody is typically only considered in cases where it can be shown that a spouse is unfit to be a parent.
If you are a parent whose marriage has come to an end, an agreement on child custody must be reached before a divorce can be finalized. While spouses are given the opportunity to reach an arrangement on their own, if disputes cannot be resolved, the choice will be left to a judge.
Two Different Types of Joint Custody
The term “joint custody” can refer to two separate parental responsibilities: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the parent’s ability to make decisions regarding the life of their child, such as what school or church they will attend. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the location and parent with whom a child will be living.
There is no guarantee that joint custody will be split 50/50 and how a judge awards custody will depend largely on a parent’s post-divorce circumstances. For example, how much support can a parent afford to provide? How far away are parents located? In some cases, it may not be practical to award joint physical custody, such as when parents live great distances from each other. In these cases, a judge mays still award joint legal custody while granting the non-custodial parent visitation rights.
Factors which a judge may consider when awarding joint custody can include:
- The health (mental and physical) of each parent
- The relationship and connection between each parent and the child
- If a child has any special medical needs
- The ability of each parent to provide a constructive and supportive environment
- Evidence of child abuse, domestic violence, or substance abuse
When fighting for custody, the ability to accurately communicate your situation can greatly affect the outcome of your case. If you have a specific question about your child custody dispute, it may be best to get an attorney involved.
Legal Help for Joint Custody
While a divorce can be financially and emotionally stressful, you do not have to navigate the process alone. Whether you are pursuing joint legal or physical custody of your children, the team at Krusch & Sellers, P.A. is here to help. Our Charlotte family law attorneys can fight tirelessly to see that your voice is heard in the courtroom.
Are you ready to speak with an attorney? Call (704) 343-8811 or contact our firm online today.