If you are facing a divorce in North Carolina, naturally you have concerns about custody if you share young children with your spouse. Reviewing the state laws about parenting division may alleviate some of your anxiety about this process.

These are the key provisions about child custody and how judges make a determination.

Types of custody

North Carolina allows parents to have either joint or sole custody. They also distinguish between legal custody and physical custody. With physical custody, the child either divides time with both parents or lives primarily with one parent while the other has reasonable visitation. Legal custody, which describes the right of each parent to make important decisions on the child’s behalf, is usually shared except in cases with extenuating circumstances.

Factors in custody decisions

Like most other states, North Carolina uses the best interest of the child standard. This means that the judge reviews the evidence and makes a decision based on what he or she believes best supports your child’s well-being. Factors include the stability of each parent’s home, each parent’s ability to provide care, the existing relationship between your child and each parent, where the child currently lives and attends school, and whether either parent has a history of neglect or domestic abuse.

North Carolina requires parents to attend a mediation session designed to help them work together to develop a parenting plan. When this negotiation does not result in an agreement, you and your spouse will each present your own parenting plan to the court for the final legally binding decision.