Divorcing couples in North Carolina have a great deal of power and control in determining the best custody arrangement for their children. In fact, North Carolina has an official policy, as stated in Section 50 of the General Statutes, of encouraging parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children after a divorce.
Ideally, divorcing parents will have the best interests of their children as their primary goal in negotiating matters of physical custody, liberal visitation for the non custodial parent, and all other aspects of continuing to raise their children together despite the divorce. They should bear in mind that, all things being equal, both parents have the right to child custody. There is no presumption favoring mothers.
There are two types of custody in North Carolina: sole and joint. As explained by the North Carolina Bar Association, sole legal custody means that one parent not only has primary physical custody of the children, but also has sole decision-making power regarding all aspects of their upbringing. Joint legal custody, which is more prevalent, means that although one parent has primary physical custody, both parents share in the decision-making process.
There are no general rules about the amount of visitation the non-custodial parent has or when, where, and how that visitation is exercised. Parents should consider their respective work schedules, how far apart they live, and their children’s ages and school or other commitments and schedules.
Divorcing parents should not be concerned that whatever they agree to now will rule their lives until the children become adults. No custody and visitation agreement is permanent. It can be modified should substantial changes occur in either parent's living situation that affects the best interests of the children.
Working together to achieve the best custody agreement makes it easier for parents to maintain a healthy relationship with each other. It also assures their children that they will have the benefit of both parents continuing to participate in their lives.