One of the most challenging parts of your divorce will be defining the terms of your custody agreement. You and your spouse’s parting may be amicable, and you might be on the same page about how you want to raise your children. Yet, you two might disagree on parenting matters or have different ideas of what an ideal arrangement looks like. If you cannot work out your own custody agreement, you may have to go through North Carolina’s mediation program to determine one.
Physical versus legal custody
North Carolina recognizes two different types of custody, physical and legal. If you receive physical custody of your children, this means that your home will be their primary residence. And if you receive legal custody of them, you will be responsible for making decisions about their lives. You and your spouse will likely share legal custody of your children after your divorce, yet only one of you may receive physical custody, unless you create an agreement that specifies otherwise. The non-custodial parent, though, will most likely receive visitation rights, except if circumstances prohibit it.
Factors that determine custody
If you and your spouse can work out your own custody agreement, you may have more room to create one that reflects your family’s circumstances. Yet, you two may not see eye to eye and will have to resolve your dispute through mediation. In this case, a mediator will help you work toward consensus about your children’s best interests. Some factors you will need to consider include:
- Your children’s relationship with you and your spouse
- Your children’s current living situation
- You and your spouse’s ability to meet your children’s needs.
- You and your spouse’s approaches to childcare and discipline
- Whether you and your spouse can both provide your children a stable home environment
- Whether you or your spouse have committed acts of domestic violence
Despite your efforts, you and your spouse may be unable to reach an agreement in mediation. And if you or your spouse have a history of domestic violence, you might not have the option of participating in the state’s program. In these cases, you may need to resolve your custody dispute through litigation.
No matter how you work out your custody agreement, it must put your children first. By focusing on their needs, you can establish an arrangement that accustoms them to the changes your divorce will bring.