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As a parent going through a divorce or separation in North Carolina, one of the most important legal issues you will need to address is child custody. Custody agreements dictate the terms of your child’s living arrangements, decision-making abilities, and visitation schedules. If you are looking to establish a custody agreement in North Carolina, it is important to understand the state’s laws and how they affect your parenting plan.

The first thing to understand about North Carolina custody agreements is that the state recognizes two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child will live and spend their time. Legal custody, on the other hand, involves decision-making authority over the child’s education, medical care, and other important aspects of their life.

North Carolina courts prefer that parents work out custody arrangements themselves whenever possible. However, if you are unable to reach an agreement, a judge will make a ruling based on the best interests of the child. Factors that are considered in determining the best interests of the child include the child’s age, physical and mental health, the stability of each parent’s home environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any history of domestic violence.

In many cases, joint physical custody of the child is awarded. This means that the child spends equal or nearly equal amounts of time living with each parent. However, if joint physical custody is not in the best interests of the child, sole physical custody may be awarded to one parent. In these cases, the other parent may be granted visitation rights.

It is important to note that North Carolina does not use the term “visitation” when referring to parenting time. Instead, the state uses the term “parenting time” or “custodial time.” This terminology reflects the state’s belief that both parents should be equally involved in their child’s life.

When creating a custody agreement in North Carolina, it is important to consider factors such as where the child will attend school, how holidays and vacations will be divided, and how decisions regarding the child’s upbringing will be made. Additionally, you may choose to include provisions regarding communication between parents, transportation arrangements, and any special needs or circumstances that the child may have.

Overall, creating a North Carolina custody agreement can be a complicated and emotional process. However, by understanding the state’s laws and working with an experienced family law attorney, you can create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your child and provides a stable and healthy environment for their growth and development.

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