There are many different child custody arrangements that can work for North Carolina families after the parents decide to divorce or separate. While many years ago, joint physical custody was unusual, it is now favored by many family courts as an ideal solution absent an environment of neglect or abuse. However, for others, one parent having primary physical custody may be the better solution, even when both parents are actively involved in their children's lives. For example, some parents may struggle with physical custody if they regularly have to travel on business trips, face deployment, or work odd hours or lengthy shifts.
At the same time, being a non-custodial parent does not mean being an inactive parent. Many non-custodial parents have extensive visitation rights and regularly see their children for extended visits. They also pay child support, critical to the well-being of the children. In many cases, parents who do not share physical custody may share legal custody, giving them an equal voice in important decisions about the child's health care, education, or religious upbringing. Non-custodial parents can maintain an active, loving relationship with their children, even if they are physically separated by work or other obligations.
Many people assume that all non-custodial parents are fathers. However, modern child custody decisions are not based on gender. Both fathers and mothers can have primary physical custody or pay child support as the non-custodial parent.
When parents decide to divorce, it can be challenging to consider how their children will be affected. A family law attorney can work with a parent to advocate for a fair agreement and parenting plan that addresses a range of issues, including child support, child custody, and visitation.