Some former North Carolina couples find it easy to navigate co-parenting after breakups, while others struggle to do so in an amicable manner. If you and your former partner find yourselves in the latter category, you may need the state’s family court system to decide on a child custody arrangement that is in your child’s best interests.
Per the North Carolina Judicial Branch, the state may award a number of different types of custody following a divorce or the end of a romantic relationship.
How legal and physical custody differ
There are some important distinctions between having legal custody and having physical custody. Having physical custody over your son or daughter means you have your child living in your home and under your case at least some of the time. Having legal custody means you have the legal right to make decisions on your son or daughter’s behalf. You and the other parent may wind up sharing physical and legal custody, or one parent may hold sole legal or physical custody over your shared child.
How sole and joint custody differ
If one of you has sole legal custody over your child, it means that the parent who has this form of custody does not have to confer with the other parent before making decisions that impact the child. If you share joint legal custody, then you must discuss decisions involving your child together before making them.
If one of you has sole physical custody, this means the parent spends all of his or her time living in that parent’s care. However, the other parent may still have visitation rights. If you share joint physical custody, then your child spends time living in both of your homes.