How to Win Sole Custody in North Carolina

Written by Jonathan Breeden

February 15, 2023

If your child’s other parent somehow jeopardizes your child, you may find it necessary to seek sole custody. However, obtaining sole custody rights in North Carolina can be challenging.

You will need to prove that it is in your child’s best interest for their other parent only to have visitation rights. Here is more about how you can go about winning sole custody of your children in NC:

What Is Sole Custody?

Having sole custody does not entirely remove the other parent’s rights. However, when one parent retains sole custody, they will have primary physical custody of their children and primary legal custody of their children.

This means you will not be required to discuss any significant parenting decisions with your child’s other parent if you have sole custody rights. Your child’s other parent may still have the right to visit their children if they do not pose a threat or risk to their child. Some of the different types of decisions you might have the right to make as a parent with sole custody include:

  • Which religion your children are raised practicing
  • Schools your children attend
  • Extracurricular activities your children participate in
  • All of your child’s medical decisions
  • Foods your children eat
  • Where your children are raised

These are just a few examples of the decisions a parent with sole custody can have discretion over. Virtually every way in which your child is raised will be up to you if you get sole custody of your child. If you do not have sole custody and are instead involved in a joint custody arrangement with your child’s other parent, these decisions must be discussed with your child’s other parent first.

When Should You Consider Filing for Sole Custody?

Sole custody is not awarded lightly in the state of North Carolina. North Carolina child custody laws aim to ensure children can spend quality time with both parents, as long as one parent is not a risk or threat to their child. Some of the situations in which the family courts in North Carolina might consider awarding sole custody include:

  • Allegations of child abuse
  • Allegations of domestic violence in the home
  • Inability to provide the child with a stable or safe living environment
  • One parent developing drug or alcohol abuse problems
  • One parent having severe physical or emotional health issues

These are just a few situations where family courts may find it necessary to award one parent sole custody. If you have reason to believe your child’s other parent poses a significant risk to your child’s safety or well-being, obtaining sole custody may be in your child’s best interests.

What Factors Are Considered When Awarding Sole Custody?​

When determining whether a request for sole custody should be granted, the North Carolina family courts will always prioritize the child’s best interests. According to the statute, some of the factors that may be considered include:

  • The child’s relationship with each of their parents
  • Each parent’s individual living arrangements
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for their child financially and to take care of them
  • Whether either parent is accused of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Whether one parent is accused of abusing the child’s other parent
  • Whether one parent has substance abuse issues or mental health problems

It should be noted that accusations of domestic violence or abuse between parents will not necessarily impact your child custody agreement. Only in situations where the alleged abuse or neglect impacts the parent’s ability to properly care for their child will these allegations be taken into consideration as part of your request for sole custody.

Does the Judge Consider Your Child’s Testimony?

Children may be able to testify when one parent is seeking sole custody rights. No age limit in the state of North Carolina prevents children from testifying. However, ordering a particularly young child to testify could negatively reflect your parenting abilities.

Children can testify as witnesses to abuse or neglect or discuss their preferences with the judge. Depending on the child’s maturity and ability to make good decisions, the judge may take into consideration where the child prefers to live and what relationships they hope to have with both parents in determining whether sole custody should be granted.

How to File for Sole Custody

If you are hoping to obtain sole custody rights in the state of North Carolina, there are certain steps you need to take for your motion to be granted. These steps include:

  1. Discussing your reasons for seeking sole custody with your attorney
  2. Filing a motion for sole custody in the North Carolina family courts
  3. Requesting an emergency order of sole custody if there was physical bodily injury, violence, abuse, or neglect
  4. Attending child custody mediation with your child’s other parent
  5. Moving forward with your sole custody hearing if you cannot agree in mediation
  6. Presenting evidence to support that sole custody is in the best interests of your child or children
  7. Once the judge has reviewed the evidence presented, they will determine whether sole custody should be ordered
  8. If your motion for sole custody is granted, a permanent custody order will be issued and will remain in effect until the child turns 18 years of age unless a modification is granted in the future

Get Help from a North Carolina Child Custody Lawyer Today

It is up to you to look out for your child’s best interests. If that means retaining sole custody rights, you need to take action to do so. Reach out to a dedicated North Carolina child custody lawyer at Breeden Law Office to discuss your next steps. Fill out our secured contact form or call us at (919) 661-4970 for a confidential case evaluation today.


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