The likelihood of getting 50/50 custody of your minor child in a divorce will depend on many different factors. Of course, it would be best if you can agree with the child’s other parent on a 50/50 custody arrangement. When the parents cannot agree on the custody arrangements, the court is unlikely to grant a 50/50 custody schedule because judges know that equal custody time requires parents who cooperate with each other.
If you cannot agree on the custody schedule, you will be unlikely to agree on the countless daily decisions parents must make when sharing custody. A North Carolina child custody lawyer can answer your questions about the chances of getting 50/50 custody in your situation. Every case is different.
The “Best Interests of the Child” Standard in Custody Cases
Judges are supposed to enter custody orders that are in the best interests of the children. Admittedly, this is a subjective standard, but it should be, because every family is unique. It would be easy to say that the parent who makes the most money, for example, would get custody of the kids, because one could easily measure how much money each parent earns, but that is not how courts determine the custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the children.
It takes a holistic exploration of the many different issues that can impact a child’s life to address the “best interests” question.
Factors That Judges Consider in Custody Disputes
Here are some of the topics that judges look at when evaluating custody arrangements:
- The age, activities, and individual needs of the child.
- The nurturing and caretaking ability of the parents.
- The relationship of the child with each parent and any siblings.
- How well the parents communicate and get along.
- How the parents share the work and responsibilities of being a parent.
- Whether the parents can resolve disagreements in a civil manner.
- Whether either parent “bad mouths” the other parent to the children.
- Which parent will encourage a healthy relationship of the children with the other parent.
- What home environment each parent will provide for the children during their periods of custody.
- How disruptive it will be when the children are with one parent as opposed to the other.
- Whether the homework gets done when with either parent.
The court can also examine safety issues, such as:
- A history of domestic violence on the part of either parent toward the other parent or the children.
- Whether either parent’s new living arrangements involve another person in the household who might be a safety risk for the children.
- A parent’s struggles with mental health or substance abuse.
In any given custody case, the court might find additional factors worth considering.
Do the Children Get a Voice in the Custody Arrangements?
Minor children in North Carolina do not have an absolute right to decide where they will live. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, the judge can consider the child’s preferences, but the final determination is in the hands of the judge if the parents cannot agree. Even when the parents reach an agreement of 50/50 custody or some other schedule, the judge must find that the arrangement is in the best interests of the child. You will want to talk with a North Carolina child custody lawyer well in advance of filing for divorce for guidance on custody arrangements and other issues. Contact our office today for help with your case, we gladly offer a free consultation.