It’s a sad aspect of the divorce process but child custody can be an extremely contentious issue. More troubling is it is that NC Child Custody Laws give no guidance as to what the courts’ rulings will be on these matters. The underlying theme is repeated repeatedly in child custody cases will be what’s best in interests for the child? It’s a simple question however, how do we determine what is the “best interest of the child”? Click here to read my thoughts on the elements to consider when making the child custody decision.

Here are the NC Statutes on Child Custody:

General Statutes of the State of North Carolina SS 50-13.1 – Procedural or legal action for custody of minor children.

(a) A parent or relative or any another person, agency or organization that claims the rights to the custody of a minor can institute an action or proceeding to obtain the custody of the child in accordance with the following provisions. Anyone whose conduct have led to guilty verdict under G.S. 14-27.2 or G.S. 14-27.3 and the concept of the child’s minor might not be a valid claim to the custody of the minor child. If the contrary intention is evident, the term “custody” shall be deemed to encompass custody or visitation, or both.

(a1) In addition to any other lawful provision anyone who initiates the action of proceeding to obtain custody ex parte that is found guilty for a violent sexual offence according to G.S. 14-208.6(5) must state any convictions in court papers.

(b) If it is apparent before the judge, either from the pleadings or other evidence the case may involve the issue of dispute over visiting or custody rights of minor children or a minor child, the issue, if there is a legal program in place in accordance with G.S. 7A-494, is set for mediation of unresolved custody and visitation prior to or in conjunction with the scheduling of the case for hearing, unless the court does not waive mediation in accordance with section (c). Questions that arise in contempt motions or requests for modifications or in other pleadings must be scheduled for mediation, unless mediation is not waived by the judge. Alimony, child support and other issues of economics may not be subject to mediation under this section. The goals of mediation as outlined in this section are to achieve of the following objectives:

  1. To ease any conflict that may arise between parties in a dispute that involves the custody or visitation rights of a minor child.
  2. The creation for custody or visitation arrangements which are in the best interest of the child;
  3. In order to provide parties with information-based choices and, if feasible, to allow each party the responsibility for making decisions on visitation and custody of children;
  4. To provide a formal and confidential, non-adversarial environment which will allow for the co-operative solution of disputes regarding custody, and lessen the stress and worry to which both parties, and particularly the child are subjected to; and
  5. To lessen the likelihood of custody and visitation disputes.

(c) In good faith upon motion by either party or upon the motion of the court itself the court can disallow the requirement to set the date pursuant to the Article 39A from Chapter 7A in the General Statutes of a contested custody or visitation issue to facilitate mediation. Good cause can include, but isn’t restricted to the following examples: a demonstration of unreasonable hardship to one party or an agreement between parties to participate in mediation on their own, which is subject to the consent of the judge allegations of neglect or abuse of the child’s minor allegations of substance abuse, alcoholism or domestic violence between parents together or of serious mental, psychiatric or emotional disorders. A declaration by either party that the other lives over fifty miles from the court is considered to be good justification.

(d) The other party could request for mediation process dismissed and the matter taken to court due to the mediator’s bias or bias, excessive familiarity with the other party, or any other prejudice reason.

(e) The mediation process must be conducted in a private manner and must be kept private. As long as it is not prohibited by this Article, all written or written communications made by one and both of participants in presence of the mediator in a court proceeding in accordance with this section are privileged and not admissible in the court. The mediator can evaluate the needs and the interests of the child and may also interview the child or other persons who aren’t parties to the proceedings if they are deemed appropriate.

(f) (f) Neither the mediator or any of the parties or any other participant in mediation sessions in accordance with this section is qualified to testify regarding communications that are made during or in connection with the mediation sessions. However that there is no immunity for communications that are that are used to aid in the commission of a fraud or crime. This subsection should not be taken to permit individuals to be exempt from prosecution for conduct that is criminal or exempting individuals from reporting requirement in Article 3 of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes or G.S. 108A-102.

(g) A deal that is reached by the parties in the course of mediation should be written that is signed by all parties and presented before the judge as quickly as possible. Unless the court has compelling reasons not to accept the agreement into an order issued by the court, and then it will be enforceable as an order issued by a court. If all or some of the issues pertaining to visitation or custody are not solved through Mediation, the mediator will inform the court.

(h) In the event that an agreement which comes out of mediation and is included in an order by a judge is called”parenting agreement” or “parenting agreement” or called under a similar name the agreement will still be considered to constitute a custody decision and a child custody decision in the context that of Chapter 50A of the General Statutes, G.S. 14-320.1, G.S. 110-139.1 or any other place where these terms are mentioned.

(i) (i) If the minor who is the object of an action under this Chapter is the subject of an juvenile neglect, abuse or dependency case under Subchapter 1.B.7B. General Statutes, then the custody proceeding pursuant to this Chapter is suspended in accordance with G.S. 7B-200. (1967, c. 1153, s. 2; 1989, c. 795, s. 15(b); 1998-202, s. 13(p); 2004-128, s. 10; 2005-320, s. 5; 2005-423, s. 4; 2007-462, s. 1.)

NC General Statutes SS 50-13.2. Who is entitled to custody; the conditions for custody, visitation rights for grandparents; and taking child outside of the State.

(a) A court order to take custody for a child who is minor issued in accordance with this section will give custody of the child to any entity, person, or institution which will ensure the welfare and interest for the child. When determining custody the court will examine all relevant aspects, including domestic violence between the two parties and the security of the child and the protection of one party from domestic violence perpetrated by the other party , and determine the matter accordingly. A custody order custody should include facts that can be relied upon to determine what is best in the interests for the child. Between the father and mother regardless of adoption or natural there is no presumption in determining who is the best to help the interests and well-being for the child. The joint custody of the parents will be considered at the request of one parent.

(b) A court order to take custody of a child who is minor may provide joint custody to parents, and exclusive custody to one individual an organization, agency or institution. It may also give custody to more than two individuals, organizations, agencies or institutions. Any custody order must contain such conditions including visitation as will most effectively serve the best interest and well-being for the child. If the court determines that domestic violence took place the court will make the orders that are most protective of the child and any other party that suffered the effects of domestic violence, accordance with the provisions in G.S. 50B-3(a1)(1), (2), and (3). If a person is absent or moves with or without children as a result of an incident of domestic violence, the absence or the relocation will not be a factor against the other party in determining the custody or visitation. In the absence of an order from the court in the opposite direction the parents shall be granted the same access to documents of the child that concern the child’s health, education, and well-being that the child.

(b1) A decree to take custody of a minor child can grant visitation rights to every grandparent in the manner that the judge, at its discretion, determines appropriate. According to this section, “grandparent” includes a biological grandparent of a child who is adopted by a stepparent or parent of the child if there is a significant relationship with the parent. In no circumstance can any birth grandparent who has been adopted by adoptive parents, who neither are closely related to the child, and when parent rights for both parents were ended, be granted visiting rights.

(c) An or order for the custody of a minor child could allow the child to be removed from of the State, however should the order envisages returning the child to the State of California the judge could oblige the person an agency, organization, or institution that has custody out of the State to provide the child a bond or other security contingent on returning the child back to the State in accordance with the decision of the judge.

(d) If within a reasonable period one parent fails to agree to adoption under Chapter 48 of the General Statutes or parental rights are not ended The consent of the consenting parent will not be valid in any action seeking custody of the child.

(e) A court order to take custody of a child who is minor may allow visitation rights through electronic communication. When granting visitation through electronically transmitted communication, the judge must be aware of the following factors:

  1. Do you think that electronic communications are beneficial to the child in need.
  2. If the equipment for communicating via electronic means is readily cost-effective, and accessible to those who are parents to the child.
  3. Any other consideration the court finds appropriate when deciding whether to permit visitation through electronic communication.

The court could establish guidelines for electronic communications that include the time during the time that communication is delivered, the distribution of the costs among parents when implementing electronic communication with their child and the disclosure of access information to parents to enable electronic communication. Electronic communication with a minor can be used to augment visits of the child. Electronic communication should not be used to replace or substitute for visiting or custody. The length of time that electronic communications are used should not count as a factor in the calculation of child support or employed to justify or justify the parent who is custodial outside the immediate region or to the state. Electronic communications between minors and parent could be monitored according to the direction of the judge. According to this section, “electronic communication” means contact other than face-to-face contact, that is carried out through electronic methods, for example via telephone, electronic mail video teleconferencing, instant messaging technology, wireless or wired through the Internet or another means of communication. (1957, c. 545; 1967, c. 1153, s. 2; 1977, c. 501, s. 2; 1979, c. 967; 1981, c. 735, ss. 1, 2; 1985, c. 575, s. 3; 1987, c. 541, s. 2; c. 776; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 591, s. 5; 2004-186, s. 17.1; 2009-314, s. 1.)