Legal Information: North Carolina


February 14, 2022

How will a judge make a decision about custody?

Custody is based on what the judge believes is in the best interest of the child.  The law says the judge must consider “all relevant factors”1 to determine a child’s best interest but does not offer a specific list of what those factors are.  The law does specifically say the following, however:

  1. If the judge finds that domestic violence has occurred, the judge will consider acts of domestic violence between the parties, the safety of the child, and the safety of either party from domestic violence by the other party.1  The factors the judge must consider are the same as they would be if you were filing for temporary custody as part of a DVPO.  Those factors are spelled out here: Can I get temporary custody if I have a restraining order against the other parent (DVPO)?
  2. If either parent is in the military, the judge cannot consider a parent’s past deployment or possible future deployment as the only basis in determining the best interest of the child but the judge can consider any significant impact on the best interest of the child regarding the parent’s past or possible future deployment.2  In other words, just the fact that the parent may have to relocate or enroll the child in a new school is not automatically supposed to be considered a negative factor against the parent.  However, if the other parent can prove that for this specific child, enrolling in a new school or being away from half-siblings, for example, would significantly harm your specific child, this may be considered.3

When you go to court, you want to be prepared with as much information as possible about yourself, the other parent, and your child. In order to show the judge that you deserve custody of your child, it is important that you have a good knowledge of your child’s interests, abilities, care, etc.  For legal advice, please consult with an attorney who is knowledgable about custody law.  See our NC Finding a Lawyer page for referrals.

1 NCGS § 50-13.2(a)
2 NCGS § 50-13.2(f)
3 See uniform law comment to subsection f in NCGS § 50-13.2

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