6 Common Questions About Child Custody

Written by Jonathan Breeden

November 24, 2021

One of the most challenging and contentious aspects of a divorce is creating your child custody agreement.

There are many misconceptions surrounding child custody in North Carolina. Here are answers to six of the most common questions surrounding child custody in North Carolina.

1. What Does Custody Mean?

There are two different types of custody: Legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the significant decisions that affect your child, such as:

  • Where will your child go to school – public, private, homeschool?
  • What religion, if any, will they be raised to observe?
  • Will they play sports? Join the band?
  • Which doctor will provide preventative and urgent care?

These are just a few of the decisions you and your spouse must agree upon when you have legal custody rights of your child.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the children primarily reside. In many families in North Carolina, parents enter into shared physical and legal custody agreements. Here, the children will spend 50% of their time with each parent. Both parents will make all major decisions regarding their children together.

There are instances in which shared custody is not a feasible option. A child custody lawyer can help you understand your rights and facilitate an understanding with your spouse.

2. How is Custody Determined in a Divorce?

There are two ways to determine responsibility in child custody agreements.

Mutual Agreement – You and your spouse work together to create a fair and reasonable plan. Try to put aside your marital differences to do what is best for your child with as little conflict and hostility as possible.

Court – If you and your spouse cannot agree to a child custody plan on your own, the courts will step in and decide on your behalf.

3. What Should You Include in a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is an overall approach to the many custody issues you will address when you divorce. Some of the most common include:

  • Legal custody
  • Physical custody
  • Visitation
  • Holiday schedules
  • Extracurricular activity schedules
  • Health insurance
  • Child support considerations

4. What Happens if We Can’t Agree?

No one knows what’s best for your family better than you and your spouse. Your marriage might be over, but your work as parents will continue as long as you live. Most parents prefer to make their own decisions about their child’s physical and legal custody without the court’s interference.

However, it is not unusual for two parents to be unable to come to a child custody agreement. When you and your child’s other parent cannot agree on child custody, you will both go to mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, then your case will go before a family judge.

Bringing your case to court should only be used as a last resort. It is financially and emotionally draining on both parent and child if you cannot agree and rely on the court.

5. Can I Keep My Ex Away From My Children?

When your child’s other parent has visitation or custody rights, you do not have the right to withhold visitation. The only instance you can keep your ex away from your child is if they pose a current and real threat or danger to you or your children.

You cannot keep your children home from their regularly scheduled visitations simply because you are angry or resentful about your ex. Unless there is a clear and present danger or another unique circumstance, it is unlawful for you to interfere, change, or cancel the other parent’s visitation or custody.

6. How Can We Make a Parenting Plan Work?

Parenting plans can only work if both parents are committed to making them work. Courts can enforce child custody and support agreements. They cannot order your child’s other parent to treat you with respect, empathy, or common courtesy.

However, the court can stipulate that any communication between you and your child’s other parent should be about co-parenting only.

Get Help From a Child Custody Lawyer in North Carolina

If you need legal help with child custody issues, contact an experienced North Carolina child custody lawyer at Breeden Law Firm today.

Call (919) 661-4970 or use our online contact form to get started on your case as soon as today.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden