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OUR FOUNDING ATTORNEY, RHONDA PATTERSON

What are a father’s custody rights during divorce?

As a father, your greatest concern during divorce may be protecting your relationship with your children. Historically, children were placed in the custody of their mothers during divorce, and fathers had limited involvement in their child’s upbringing.

You desire greater involvement in your child’s life and want to be there for them each step of the way. Will the court favor your ex-wife in a custody decision, or will custody be split between parents?

Equal rights for both parents

Fortunately, North Carolina has improved the equality of its custody system over the years and now places equal value on both parents’ contributions. The state favors a joint-custody system in which both parents share custody of the children.

This does not mean that you and your ex-spouse will necessarily be awarded equal time with the children. If you are unable to reach a custody decision through mediation, the court will determine a custody and visitation arrangement based on the child’s best interests, evaluating many factors to do so.

What factors will the court assess to determine custody?

The court evaluates a variety of factors to determine a final custody and visitation arrangement; however, the focus is always on protecting your child’s best interests. Possible evaluated factors include:

  • Histories of domestic violence or neglect
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s current living arrangement, school and lifestyle
  • Each parent’s availability and ability to care for the child’s needs
  • Each parent’s ability to create a safe and stable home environment

If your child is deemed able to contribute to this discussion, their preference may be considered to determine a final custody order.

If the court seems to be making a biased custody decision in favor of the mother, an experienced divorce attorney can step in to protect your rights. Custody decisions should never hinge on the gender of a parent.