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How is custody decided in North Carolina divorces?

As much as you love your children, you may feel that being a parent could complicate your divorce. Working out custody can be challenging, especially if you and your spouse have different ideas of what an ideal arrangement looks like. If you two are having difficulty reaching consensus, you may feel that there is no way to resolve your case. Yet, in North Carolina, you have ways to work toward an agreement that puts your children first, no matter how tense your divorce is.

North Carolina’s mediation program

In most instances, North Carolina courts will send contested custody cases to the state’s mediation program. This program allows parents to work out an agreement based on their family’s unique needs, rather than placing its fate in the hands of a judge.

Keep in mind that the court can waive mediation in certain circumstances. For one, you and your spouse can request a waiver it if you decide to participate in voluntary mediation. Furthermore, the court will not order mediation for you and your spouse if one of you has a history of domestic violence, substance abuse or neglect.

Factors that impact custody in North Carolina

You and your spouse will account for two different types of custody during your divorce. Physical custody establishes which of you your children will live with primarily. And legal custody establishes which of you will make important decisions about their lives. Both types of custody can be awarded in sole or joint form.

Any agreement that you and your spouse reach about custody – whether mediated or litigated – must reflect the best interests of your children. Some of the factors that determine these include:

  • Whether you or your spouse can provide your children with greater consistency and stability
  • Whether your children’s primary caregiver is you or your spouse
  • Whether your custody arrangement will keep your children together
  • Whether your or your spouse’s emotional bond with your children is stronger
  • Your children’s preferences, provided they are of an appropriate age and maturity

Resolving your custody dispute may seem like an impossible endeavor. Yet, you can make the process easier by keeping your focus on your children’s needs. By consulting a family law attorney, you can work to set forth an agreement that puts these first.