Navigating North Carolina Custody Laws

North Carolina Child Custody Laws

Child custody is often a contentious issue during parental separations. North Carolina custody laws guide the courts in deciding with which parent the child will live, how often a child visits the other parent, and the terms of visitation. It is important to understand North Carolina child custody laws when determining arrangements for your child. Emblem Legal in Charlotte NC can help you, every step of the way.


North Carolina custody laws are guided by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. A version of this act has been adopted in every state to establish a standard set of child custody jurisdiction and enforcement rules. This helps fight against parental kidnapping done in order to obtain a new custody decree in another state. Under that act, North Carolina court has jurisdiction if one or more of these conditions are met:

  • The child has lived in North Carolina for the most recent six months

  • North Carolina has the most significant connection with the child and at least one parent

  • The child is faced with abandonment or an emergency and is physically present in North Carolina

  • No other state currently has jurisdiction, and it is in the child’s best interest that North Carolina accept jurisdiction

If any of these criteria exists, the judge will likely find that North Carolina has jurisdiction over the child custody case.

Types of Custody

There are two general types of custody recognized in North Carolina. The two types of custody can each take two forms, joint where both parents share in a type of custody and sole, where only one of the parents have the particular type of custody.


With legal custody, the parent can make important decisions in a child's life regarding education, medical procedures, and other major decisions. It is common for the parents to have joint legal custody.


Physical custody determines with which parent the child will live. It is more common for one parent to have sole custody and the other have visitation as opposed to joint physical custody. A joint arrangement could be too disrupting to a child’s home and school life.


North Carolina custody laws require mediation of child custody cases unless there are concerns with domestic violence, child abuse, or drug/alcohol abuse. Mediation is a conversation between the parents facilitated by a court employed mediator. The session is private and information is not shared outside of the session. If the parties agree on a plan, a Parenting Agreement is drawn up by the mediator and sent to the parties and their attorneys for review. If no agreement is reached, the courts will decide custody.

Determining Custody

The courts follow North Carolina custody laws in determining their custody decisions. The best interest of the child is the standard in making these decisions. Courts will usually use the following factors:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable, safe, and nurturing home for the child

  • The child's current living arrangement

  • The child’s relationship with each parent

  • The health, mental and physical, of both the child and the parents

North Carolina Custody Laws

There is no distinction made in North Carolina custody laws between mothers and fathers with regard to primary physical custody.

Navigating North Carolina custody laws can be challenging without the knowledge and expertise of an attorney. Emblem Legal is a North Carolina firm that handles family court issues including child custody. Don’t let the courts decide your child’s future without consulting a lawyer with expertise in North Carolina custody laws.