Child Custody in North Carolina

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What rules are there for Father’s Right in NC?”

Divorce can be confusing and difficult for all parties – the spouses, children, family, friends, etc. However, one of the biggest concerns spouses have when facing a divorce is the impact it will have on their children. In addition to impacting a child’s overall well-being, child custody arrangements must also be decided during divorce proceedings.


kid-playing-with-ball-Charlotte-Child-Custody-Lawyers-300x200North Carolina does not have a bias to any particular spouse in custody matters. Instead, the law states that custody should be awarded to the parent who “will best promote the interest and welfare of the child.” The court determines which spouse, or household, is in the best interest of the child to be given custody.


While a decision on child custody must be made in a divorce proceeding, the judge does not need to make the determination. The parties can come to an agreement themselves and include it with the divorce decree. If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement, the court will step in and weigh a variety of factors to determine who should be awarded custody. North Carolina law does not state every factor that will be considered for child custody, but the following are a list of commonly used factors to determine custody.


  • Safety of the child: The court will look to see if there are instances of domestic violence from one or both parents. The court will also try to determine whether domestic violence could occur. Overall, the court is looking for the party that will keep the child the safest.
  • A parent’s ability to provide for the child: The court wants to make sure that whichever parent is awarded custody is able to care and provide for the needs of the child. Making sure a parent has a stable job and income to provide the necessities to a child are just some of the considerations made.
  • Ability to provide a stable environment: Studies show that children flourish in steady and stable environments. The court wants a child to be successful in the future and will place that child with the parent who can provide a nurturing and stable environment.
  • Current living situation: Most divorces have a period in which the couple is separated and no longer living together. The court will take into consideration the living arrangement made during that initial separation period in making the custody decision.


The above is not an exhaustive list of all factors North Carolina courts will use to determine custody. However, they are the most commonly analyzed factors within the judicial system.


At Arnold & Smith, PLLC we understand that divorce is a difficult time for most people. As such, our experienced family law attorneys want to make this transition into a new chapter of life as easy and painless as possible. We know that you want what is best for your children, and we will work with you to try and get the best possible custody arrangement. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (expected to open early 2019) North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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