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Legal Information: North Carolina


Laws current as of December 22, 2023

Who can get custody of a child?

Generally, the parents of the child are first in line to be granted custody. If, however, the parents are unfit, custody can be awarded to the person, agency, organization or institution that will best promote the interest and welfare of the child.1 An order for custody of a minor child may grant:

  • joint custody to the parents;
  • exclusive custody to one person, agency, organization, or institution; or
  • custody to two or more persons, agencies, organizations, or institutions.2

In North Carolina, in order for a non-parent relative to be granted custody of a child, he or she must prove that both parents of the child are unfit to raise the child or that both parents have neglected the child.3

1 NCGS § 50-13.2(a)
2 NCGS § 50-13.2(b)
3 See Peterson v. Rogers, 337 N.C. 397 (1994)