Types of Custody in Charlotte

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When a couple separates, there are many decisions that need to be made about the care of their children. There are two primary types of custody that must be decided: legal custody and physical custody. Each category has options for joint custody or sole custody. An experienced child custody attorney could help determine the best fit.

Contact our firm now to learn more about different types of custody in Charlotte and what options are available for you and your children.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where a minor child sleeps and lives and who spends the most time physically around them. A parent with physical custody is responsible for supervision and daily activities like transporting the child to school and appointments, helping them with homework, feeding them, and more.

The parent who has the child the majority of the time is known as the custodial parent. The other parent is the non-custodial parent. Some parents may alternate 50/50—having the child live with one parent one week and the other parent the following week—while others only have their children on weekends or certain holidays.

“Bird-Nesting” Custody Arrangements

Routines and familiarity are very important to a minor child’s development and overall sense of security. When parents split up, the law always keeps the children’s best interests in mind. This means minimizing disruptions to the lifestyle they have been accustomed to.

A “bird-nesting” arrangement for physical custody supports this by letting the child stay in the home they grew up in and having the parents take turns living with them. When it is a certain parent’s custodial time, they go to the house, and the other parent leaves. This specific type of child custody in Charlotte allows the child to stay in their original “nest” and not pack their bags for frequent sleepovers with the non-custodial parent.


A non-custodial parent still has visitation rights. Typically, this means they get the child on some weekends and holidays. Exact dates and schedules can be set in a parenting plan as part of a child custody agreement. This agreement can be modified at any time, though the court must approve it.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions for their child. This includes major decisions like school, travel, religion, medical care, therapy, and day-to-day decisions like bedtime, nutrition, and participation in sports or other extracurricular activities.

Most of the time, courts split legal custody equally between both parents. In the event the co-parents disagree about something, the court may grant the primary custodial parent the authority to make the final decision. Still, the noncustodial parent always has the right to know information, call doctors and schools, and access records about their child.

Sometimes, the judge specifies certain aspects of the split, like giving the mother the final say on education and medical care, while the father makes decisions about extracurricular activities and religious services. When considering who is awarded legal custody—or any type—Charlotte courts always consider the child’s best interest. Once they turn eighteen, a child is no longer under legal custody.

The Right of First Refusal

One aspect of legal custody is the right of first refusal. This means that if a parent cannot supervise a child when they are supposed to, they must reach out to the other parent for help before turning to babysitters, other relatives, and so on. This provision can be clearly included in a child custody agreement.

Joint and Sole Custody

Joint custody is a 50/50 split across the board. Physically, this could mean the mother has the child one week, and father has the child the next week. Legally, the mother and father would share equal input on all decisions concerning the child. Joint custody works well when parents are on good terms, live nearby, and are both involved in their child’s schooling and activities. They will be equally responsible for caring for the child.

Sole custody, also known as full custody, gives one person total physical and legal custody of their child. Although it is rare, sole custody may be awarded to a parent when the other parent:

  • Cannot be located
  • Has a history of substance abuse
  • Has been absent from the child’s life for a very long time
  • Refuses to participate/does not answer the complaint filed
  • Has a history of neglecting or abusing the child or ex-partner
  • Has mental or physical health struggles that interfere with childcare
  • Generally lacks the finances or ability to provide a safe and stable home environment

A skilled attorney in Charlotte could explore types of custody and help determine the right custodial arrangement for you and your loved ones.

Contact Our Charlotte, NC Firm To Discuss Types of Custody

No two custody cases are alike. The types of custody in Charlotte will vary depending on each family’s lifestyle and what is best for their children.

Know your rights, avoid missteps, and protect your relationship with your children. Contact us now to get started.

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