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How do you get sole physical custody in North Carolina?

When determining physical custody of a child, North Carolina courts work on the basis that the best arrangement for a child is joint physical custody. If you want to seek sole physical custody, you will have to prove to the judge why it is in your child’s best interests.

What does a court need to see to award sole physical custody?

If seeking sole physical custody, you must tread a fine line. You need to explain to a judge why the other parent should not be given a share of custody without appearing overly critical. Here are some reasons that could support your claim:

  • The other parent is unfit to parent: This could be due to abusive behavior, problems with drugs or alcohol, or a personality disorder.
  • The other parent is unavailable: This could be because the parent is in prison or because their work schedule requires them to travel frequently or work extremely long hours. If one parent wishes to move, this could also make shared physical custody impossible if the distance between the two homes is too great.
  • The other parent is incapable of caring for the child: Someone who has a severe mental or physical disability may need daily help themselves and be unable to take on the extra responsibility. That is not to say that every disability prevents a parent from raising a child, far from it.
  • The other parent shows no interest: It would make no sense to award physical custody to someone who does not want to bring up a child.

If both parents agree that one parent has sole physical custody, a judge would typically respect that decision unless there are serious grounds not to.

How does sole physical custody affect support?

If you gain sole physical custody, the other parent will be required to pay you child support. If you share physical custody equally, a court may decide child support payments are not needed. Courts will look at each situation individually. Consult our child custody FAQs page to answer more of your queries.