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When can one parent secure sole custody in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2024 | Child Custody and Child Support

Parents in North Carolina who decide to divorce may have a difficult road ahead of them. It can be very difficult for the entire family to adjust to that new situation. The majority of North Carolina custody cases result in parents sharing responsibility for their children.

They divide parenting time or physical custody as well as parental authority or legal custody. They have to cooperate to regularly exchange custody and to make important decisions about the children. Occasionally, one parent strongly believes that the best outcome involves securing sole custody of their children.

When is sole custody a reasonable goal to set during a divorce?

Sole custody is an uncommon outcome

Contrary to the tragic stories that proliferate online, it is unusual for judges to deny one parent regular time with their children. Typically, there needs to be some significant issue that raises concerns about the well-being of the children for a judge to award one parent’s sole custody.

Most of the time, North Carolina family law judges want both parents to have a liberal amount of time with their shared children. Someone seeking sole custody typically needs to establish that there are unusual and concerning family circumstances.

Evidence beyond just their personal testimony is necessary to convince the courts. For example, a parent could present medical records showing that the children have suffered physical injuries due to neglect or abuse. They could obtain written statements or testimony from educational professionals or mental health care providers who have worked with the children. Police reports, video footage and even photographs of injuries could be helpful.

Cases involving addiction could also lead to sole custody if one parent is incapable of controlling their substance abuse disorder. Other medical issues that prevent someone from adequately parenting could also influence a judge’s custody determinations.

Without evidence of unsafe and unusual circumstances, a judge is unlikely to deprive a parent who wants time with their children of access to them. In some cases, unwarranted requests for sole custody could lead to a judge having a negative view of one parent.

Exploring family circumstances and custody goals with a skilled legal team in depth can help divorcing parents put together a viable custody strategy. Most parents need to prepare for the likelihood of shared custody unless there is reason to worry about the safety of their children.