Hi, my name is Claudia Soto, and I am an attorney at NorthPointe Law Group. Custody is one of the most challenging aspect of the law that I deal with. Custody is challenging because there are minor children involved and they do not have much say in their care so we and the courts depend on parents and guardians that are watching out for those minor children’s best interest.
In situation where there is a separation of the parents, it is always advisable that the parents come to an agreement on who will care for the child and serve that child’s best interest. However if the parents are unable to come to an agreement, then the North Carolina court will step in and make a custody determination for the minor child.
In North Carolina, the standard is “the best interest of the child”. Therefore, the courts will look at what serves that child’s best interest under the circumstance of the parents. Some of the factors that the court will consider include: any past actions of the parents such as domestic violence. The court can also look at any drug abuse by either parent. History of violence is also a factor that the court will take into account in determining custody. Another factor in the past actions category is what parent was the primary care taker, in so much as taking the child to the doctor and the dentist. It will have some weight if only one parent took on that responsibility. Education is important to the court therefore the court will put some weight on which parent assisted he child with homework and was involved in the child’s educational life. Another factor that will be considered is the parents living arrangements. The court will want to know if the parents have adequate space to accommodate the child. The parent-child relationship and the child’s wishes are also taken into account in a custody determination. The child’s wishes come into play only when the child is old enough to understand the circumstances and voice his or her opinion without being fully influenced by one of the parents. The court will usually consider a child’s wishes after 8-10 yrs old.
Again I want to stress the importance of parents trying to work together to come to an agreement on custody, as this will better serve the child and prevent lengthy and contentious litigation.
If you have any questions or would like additional information please contact our office at 704-584-4111