After the end of a North Carolina marriage or romantic relationship involving children, you and your child’s other parent may need to make important decisions regarding child custody and visitation. If you and your child’s mother or father are going to share custody, you need to know the different types of custody recognized by the state and develop an understanding of what rights come with each.
Per the North Carolina Judicial Branch, custodial rights allow you to make major life decisions when it comes to your child. However, there are some important distinctions between different child custody types.
Understanding sole and joint custody
Sole custody means you or your child’s other parent maintains exclusive decision-making rights when it comes to your son or daughter. It also means the parent with sole custody does not have to consult with the other parent before making such decisions. However, the noncustodial parent may be able to secure visitation rights that grant him or her limited time with the child.
Understanding legal and physical custody
There are also important differences between having legal and physical custody. Having legal custody means you do have the right to make major decisions about your child and that one parent may not make these decisions without consulting the other. Physical custody refers to where the child sleeps at night or spends his or her time. You and your child’s mother or father may share legal custody, physical custody or both, or one parent may maintain one or both types of custody.
In the absence of a child custody order, the state presumes that a child’s legal parents have equal rights over him or her.