Types of Parental Custody Rights

If you are considering a divorce in the state of North Carolina, one of your biggest concerns may have to do with child custody and the right to see your child. There are several different types of child custody rights afforded to parents, and understanding what those different types are and what will likely be granted to you by a court in Charlotte will help you better protect your legal rights as a parent.

Types of Custody

There are several different types of custody rights and options available to a parent in the state of North Carolina.

  • Physical Custody - The right for a parent to actually spend time with the child, or have custody of the child for overnight visits.
  • Legal Custody - The right of a parent to make important physical, medical, education, or other major decisions on behalf of the child.
  • Joint Custody - The court typically grants parents joint custody, which means that they will both have a right to either physical or legal custody or both.
  • Sole Custody - If only one parent has the physical or legal custody of a child, it is called sole custody.
  • Termination of Parental Rights - In rare cases, a parent will have his or her parental rights completely terminated.
Child’s Best Interests

Courts will always attempt to determine what is in the “best interest of the child.” This legal construct is important as it serves as a barometer by which the court will make its judgment and determination regarding child support and child custody issues. Courts have a tendency to rule in favor of both parents emotionally and financially supporting their children, and therefore tend to award joint physical and legal custody of children to both parents in a divorce. Some of the questions that a court will attempt to answer when making determinations regarding physical and legal custody will include:

  • Does one parent behave more amicably toward the other and allow the other parent easy access to the child?
  • Does one parent honor the current parenting schedule more than the other?
  • How does each parent plan to emotionally and financially support the child following the divorce?
  • How much time will each parent have to spend with their child following the divorce?
  • Is the child a special needs child? If so, does one parent have the ability to be with the child every day, or take them to their weekly or daily therapy or medical appointments?
  • Does one parent have the ability to think of the child’s needs proactively and ensure that their emotional, physical and academic needs are met?
  • Does one parent provide a more stable home environment for the child?
  • What are the mental, physical and emotional fitness levels of both parents?
  • Where does each parent live? Do they live close to the school? Do they live close to each other making co-parenting easier?
  • Does one parent provide more of a consistent routine for the child with respect to homework, academics, extracurricular activities or bedtimes?
  • What school is on record as being the registered school for the child?
  • Have there ever been any instances or evidence of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, abandonment, neglect, or other violent activity by one parent?
  • Has either parent provided false testimony or information to the court in the divorce case?
  • Has either parent been convicted of a felony?
  • Has one parent spoken negatively about the other parent in front of the child, or spoken of matters involving child support, child custody or other divorce matters in front of the child?
  • Does the child have a preference for which parent they spend the most time with? Is there a parent they do not want to spend time with at all? If so, why?

It is critical to understand that you may not be asked any or all of the questions written above. However, the court will ask you questions regarding your divorce and your plans as a parent in light of child custody decisions. How you answer those questions will absolutely impact the amount and type of child custody you receive.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina

If you are considering a divorce, and are concerned about physical and legal custody rights regarding your child, you should contact an experienced divorce attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina to help you understand how best to obtain the most amount of time with your child as possible. Contact an experienced divorce attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at 704.370.2828 or online today to schedule your consultation.