Arguably, the most emotionally charged subject in family law is how to resolve issues concerning the custody of and financial support for minor children. We want you to know that you aren’t alone in this pursuit. Here’s a condensed overview of the options available for child custody and child support provisions in North Carolina.
CHILD CUSTODY: Physical and Legal Custody
Physical custody addresses who gets to see the child and how often they get to see them. The parent with physical custody of the child has the right to make the day-to-day decisions. In general, there are 3 possibilities for determining physical custody of a child:
- Sole Physical Custody: one parent has the child in their care all of the time.
- Primary Physical Custody: one parent has the child in their care for a majority of the time; the other parent has reasonable visitation.
- Joint/Shared Physical Custody: both parents have approximately the same amount of time with the child per year.
Legal custody determines who gets to make the major decisions (e.g. medical, religion, and educational issues) that affect the child. In general, there are 3 possibilities for determining legal custody of a child:
- Sole Legal Custody: one parent has the right to make all major decisions for the child.
- Joint Legal Custody: both parents have equal decision-making power. This is the presumption under NC law, without a written agreement or Order to the contrary.
- Joint Legal Custody with Final Decision-Making Power: both parents have equal decision-making power, but in the event they are unable to reach an agreement, one parent has the right to make the final decision.
In most cases, child support is calculated based on the NC Child Support Guidelines. Generally, the amount of child support calculated pursuant to the Guidelines is presumed to meet the reasonable needs of a child. Currently, where the parents have a combined income of more than $25,000.00 per month ($300,000.00 per year), the child support obligation cannot be determined by the Guidelines.
Contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss your legal matters regarding child custody and child support.