Legislators throughout the United States are introducing bills for joint custody. The bills state that the courts should presume that it’s best for the children to have equal time with both parents unless there are exceptional circumstances in the case. When both parents live in the same community and there’s no reason to believe that either parent has an issue of concern, judges in joint custody states award roughly equal time to both parents. If you have a divorce or custody case in North Carolina, you might wonder, is North Carolina a joint custody state?
There’s no presumption of joint custody in North Carolina
North Carolina is not a joint custody state. Instead, the courts decide custody based on the best interests of the children. There’s no automatic assumption that it’s best for children to have equal time with both parents. The court looks at all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the children to decide what’s best. The court considers the safety of the children, domestic violence and any other relevant detail.
Can the court award joint custody?
North Carolina law § 50-13.2 governs custody decisions. The law says that the court should consider joint custody if either parent asks them to consider it. The law doesn’t contain a definition of what amounts to joint custody. When the judge decides the case, they must also create a parenting time schedule.
The law regarding joint custody is broad and open to interpretation. Joint custody might mean equal time, but it might also mean an unequal division of time. The court has to consider joint custody, but they don’t have to award it. The law is purposefully vague to allow judges to act in the best interests of the children.
How do I build my case?
It’s up to you to show the court that it’s best for you to have primary custody of the children. You have to gather evidence of your parenting skills and evidence of the circumstances surrounding the children. An experienced North Carolina divorce attorney can help you build and present your case.
The right to access information is equal
Even though there’s no presumption of joint physical custody, North Carolina law § 50-13.2 starts by presuming that both parents have a right to access information about the child. Both parents typically have access to school and medical records unless the court orders something different. In most cases, both parents have access to records. However, it’s still critical to carefully build your case to prove your parental fitness to the judge.