Jeff Marshall is a board certified specialist in Family Law

Is It Hard to Get Full Custody in North Carolina?

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Parents have the right to be involved in their child’s life through physical presence and the ability to make decisions for the child. Parental rights are fundamental, meaning terminating these rights is challenging and will only happen under specific circumstances.

Types of Child Custody in North Carolina

young girl standing between her parentsWhen determining child custody arrangements, the court considers more than where the child will physically spend time. That is physical custody. The court also considers who will have legal custody of the child. Legal custody means a parent’s right to make significant decisions regarding their child’s welfare like healthcare, religion, and education. In North Carolina, there are a variety of child custody arrangements that a court can award, including:

  • Joint legal and physical custody: Joint custody is one of the most common child custody arrangements. It requires the parents to share physical custody of the child. The parents must make decisions together concerning the child’s education, medical care, religion, and other issues regarding their welfare.
  • Sole legal and physical custody: Sole custody, or full custody, tends to be less common because parents have a right to be in their child’s life and make decisions about them. However, when sole custody is awarded, it generally means that one parent will have custody of the child and the ability to make all major decisions concerning the child without consulting the other parent. In addition, when sole custody is awarded, the non-custodial parent can seek visitation rights. Sole custody is not necessarily permanent.
  • Sole physical custody and joint legal custody: Sometimes, the court will award sole physical custody to one parent but still require parents to make major decisions together.
  • Sole legal custody and joint physical custody: Sometimes, the court will award sole legal custody, but the parents will have joint physical custody of the child. In this situation, the parents will share physical custody of their children, but one parent can make all legal decisions without consulting the other parent.

How Child Custody Is Determined in Raleigh

Under North Carolina law, there are several factors that the court will use to determine what type of child custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests. Some of these factors are as follows:

  • Each parent’s stability
  • Each parent’s living situation
  • Child’s relationship with each parent and anyone else living with the parents
  • Safety of the child when with each parent
  • Parent’s time commitments that would take them away from the child
  • Parent’s ability to care for the child

Why Is Full Custody Less Common?

When determining custody arrangements, the court is trying to determine what is in the child’s best interests. Typically, having both parents play an active role in the child’s life is in the child’s best interests. As a result, joint custody is more common than sole physical and legal custody.

How To Obtain Full Custody in North Carolina

There are various elements that someone will need to show to overcome the court’s preference for joint legal and physical custody. To get sole custody, you must show that it is in the child’s best interests.

closeup of a sun hugging his father on the shore

Courts will be inclined to order sole physical and legal custody if one of the parents is unfit to care for the child or make decisions on the child’s behalf. For example, the court may order sole custody if one parent has the following.

  • An inability to provide a safe home environment
  • History of domestic violence
  • History of substance abuse
  • History of physical or mental health issues

If there is any evidence that sole custody is in the child’s best interests, an experienced attorney will use it to pursue sole custody for their client.

Visitation Rights

When an order for sole custody is entered, it may be accompanied by an order for visitation. Visitation allows the non-custodial parent to be a part of their child’s life through a less active role. Visitation may be awarded with stipulations, such as only in the presence of another person or during specific days and times. Violating a visitation order can result in visitation rights being taken away from the non-custodial parent.

Contact Marshall & Taylor PLLC Today

If you believe that seeking sole custody is in your child’s best interests, turn to Marshall & Taylor PLLC. We want to help get the custody arrangement you need. Our family law attorneys are experienced with custody cases. We will work to increase your chances of being awarded sole physical and legal custody of your child. Contact us today by calling us at (919) 833-1040 or through our online contact form to discuss your legal options.