Family Law in North Carolina: What are the Best Interests of the Child Factors?

For parents who have young kids, going through a divorce or separation can be especially challenging. You have to work out issues related to child custody and child visitation. In North Carolina, custody & visitation disputes are resolved under the state’s “best interests of the child” standard. Here, our Monroe family lawyers provide an overview of the legal standard and explain the best interests of the child factors in North Carolina.

North Carolina Law: Best Interests of Children Always Come First

As a starting point, it is imperative that parents understand the importance of our state’s best interests of the child standard. Under North Carolina law (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.2), courts must make all custody determinations in a manner that “will best promote the interest and welfare of the child”. In effect, this means that the desires of the parents are a secondary consideration.

The best interests of the child standard is a comprehensive legal standard in North Carolina. As the state’s Supreme Court noted in the instructive 1982 case of In re the Custody of Peal, the best interests of the child standard in a North Carolina custody dispute is applied by considering what is best for the child’s:

  • Physical safety;
  • Mental & emotional health;
  • Social development; and
  • Moral and physical faculties.

Know the Best Interests of the Child Factors in North Carolina

In a North Carolina child custody or child visitation case, courts have the authority to consider any factor deemed relevant to determining what type of arrangement is in the child’s best interest. Some of the key factors that are frequently reviewed in North Carolina child custody cases include:

  • Each parent’s relationship with the child;
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable life and stable home environment;
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health;
  • The willingness of the parents to work together in a cooperative manner;
  • The child’s ties to home, school, and community;
  • The wishes of the child (if old enough and mature enough);
  • Any history of alcohol abuse or substance abuse;
  • Any history of domestic violence; and
  • Any history of child neglect or other parental misconduct.

Child custody disputes are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Notably, North Carolina law presumes that it is in a child’s best interest to have a positive and consistent relationship with both parents. For this reason, some version of shared legal custody is preferred. That being said, sole custody can be granted to one parent if that parent can prove that it is in the best interests of the child.

Call Our Monroe, NC Family Law Attorney for Immediate Help

At Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP, our North Carolina family lawyers have extensive experience handling complex child custody and child visitation cases. If you have any questions about the best interests of the child standard, we are here to help. Contact our firm now for a completely confidential review and evaluation of your case. With a law office in Monroe, we provide family law representation throughout Union County, including in Indian Trail, Mint Hill, Wingate, and Waxhaw.