Is seeking sole custody the right option for North Carolina parents?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | family law |

Divorce can trigger many intense emotions, not the least of which is fear. Parents facing divorce often feel intensely nervous about the possibility of the divorce affecting their relationship with their children. For some parents, the big concern might actually be worry that the other parent could harm the children through abuse or neglect during their parenting time.

Seeking sole custody often seems like the simplest solution. Parents with sole custody can obviously spend as much time with the children as they want and don’t have to worry about what happens when the other parent has time with the children. Is it a worthwhile undertaking to seek sole custody during a divorce in North Carolina?

Parents can agree to any terms

In situations involving a very busy professional or someone who regularly travels for work, it is sometimes possible to negotiate an arrangement where one parent has sole custody and the other sees the children by scheduling visitation with them. Some families recognize the necessity of such arrangements.

Someone who knows that they lack the patience or availability to meet the needs of the children can potentially agree to give the other parent sole custody. If reaching an agreement on the matter isn’t a realistic expectation, then the parent hoping for sole custody may need to consider the situation carefully.

Litigated cases can be difficult to predict

Judges in North Carolina can essentially impose whatever custody terms they reasonably believe are in the best interests of the children. Most judges try to preserve both parental relationships. Research generally shows that children benefit from having the loving care of both parents to the largest extent possible.

That being said, judges can sometimes agree that sole custody could be the best outcome. Generally, to convince a judge that sole custody is the right solution, one parent needs evidence of misconduct, neglect or instability on the part of the other parent.

Simply making claims in court is usually insufficient to influence what a judge decides. Those pursuing sole custody need testimony from professionals, medical records or even police reports to convince a judge that granting them sole custody is in the best interests of their children.

If a judge believes that someone requests sole custody out of spite or without consideration for the needs of the children, they might develop a less favorable opinion of that parent. Someone who requests sole custody without what a judge perceives as valid justification could put themselves at a disadvantage during litigated custody proceedings.

Discussing family circumstances and custody goals with a lawyer could help a parent decide the best way to approach this challenging issue. Those who know how judges handle custody matters can adjust their expectations for family court accordingly.

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