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Statutes:Chapter 50A
DescriptionWho the child lives with (physical custody) and who makes important decisions about the child (legal custody).
TakeawayCustody is determined by whatever a judge feels is in the child(ren)'s best interest.

Custody is determined by whatever a judge feels is in the child(ren)'s best interest. There are two types of custody. Physical custody is who the minor lives with. Legal custody is who makes important decisions about the child(ren). Generally, a judge is comparing one parent to the other to determine which (or both) are competent parents.


How to best prove the child is better-off with one parent than the other depends on the circumstances. However, one common factor is which parent takes the child to places like the dentist, doctor, and school. The minor's own preferences can also be a factor, depending on their age and whether the child has responsible adult reasons for their preference. Other factors include providing a suitable home, making healthy meals, and looking after the child's development.

Minimum Custody

Generally, even if one parent is awarded primary custody, the other parent will have custody every other weekend. A parent can only completely lose custody rights if they are a danger to the child(ren) or demonstrate an abandonment of their parental role. Examples would be if one parent is involved in dangerous crimes, abuses drugs, and/or sexually/physically abuses the child(ren). Completely extinguishing a parent's custody rights is rare. The need for ongoing, long-term co-parenting is one reason resolving custody at mediation instead of trial is often preferred.


A North Carolina court will accept jurisdiction if North Carolina is the child's "home state."[1] However, if North Carolina was the home state of the child within the prior six months, and one spouse takes the child to another state, North Carolina courts will still accept jurisdiction.[1] You can also have North Carolina jurisdiction if no other state can or wants to.[1] However, if a spouse takes the child to another state for more than six months, their new state most likely is the only state that can accept jurisdiction.[2]

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