Our readers in North Carolina who are familiar with previous posts here know that sometimes child custody disputes can become the most contentious part of a divorce case. Or, in those cases in which the parents of the child were never married to begin with, child custody issues can start off as contentious right from the very beginning.
When it comes to deciding child custody — both legal custody and physical custody — most family law courts, like to see the couples work out an arrangement that works for both of them. However, sometimes, an out-of-court agreement simply is not possible and, as a result, the parties end up litigating the issue in court. When that happens, a family law judge will weigh certain factors to determine “the best interests of the child” and how to solve the child custody problem.
If the child at issue is old enough, that child’s preferences on which parent has custody could be crucial. But, courts will consider other factors as well, such as: the physical and mental health of the parents; the need to maintain stability, as much as possible, for the child; the existence of other family relationships that would be beneficial to maintain, such as relationships with siblings or grandparents; and, in certain cases, the existence of drug or alcohol abuse, or physical abuse.
Of course, each child custody issue is unique and will come with its own facts and relationships to analyze. Anyone in North Carolina who is going through a child custody dispute would likely benefit from learning about all available options.