Types Of Child Custody In NC

September 25th, 2023

In North Carolina there are two primary types of custody; physical custody and legal custody. Within those main types of custody, are two different custody arrangements, joint and sole custody. In North Carolina custody agreements can be “active” until the child is 18 years old. Once the child turns 18, the state no longer has authority to enforce a custody or visitation agreement.  

Legal Custody:

Legal custody refers to the right to make all decisions regarding a child. If one has legal sole custody, they are able to make all decisions for this child, after consulting with the other parent. If the parents have joint legal custody, they must talk and reach a mutual agreement when coming to major decisions regarding the child, including health, schooling, and living situations.  

Physical Custody:

Physical custody refers to one having the right to see and care for their child physically. This does not mean that they are able to make life decisions for this child, but they are capable of physically supporting the child.  If you have joint physical or shared physical custody, then both parents typically each have custody of the children over 1/3rd of the year. If you have sole physical custody of a child, then you typically have the children the majority of the time. Absent situations where the children are placed in a dangerous environment, the court is likely to award at least every other weekend to the other parent.  

Custody agreements are not mandatory once parents split. If there is no custody order in place, then both parties may parent where they see fit. Creating a custody agreement can make decisions regarding the child easier in terms of health care, schooling, permanent living, etc. so that there is no confusion between the parties when the time comes.