How to Get Full Custody of a Child as a Mother in North Carolina?

Child custody cases represent one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. When married parents decide to divorce, the courts must establish a child custody order, which sees to the caretaking and support of the children, before the divorce can be finalized. Coming to an agreement on child custody can pose numerous challenges. Many of our clients often ask how to get full custody of a child as a mother in North Carolina. No two custody cases are the same, but there are common factors that may allow a mother to gain full custody.

Child Custody Arrangements in North Carolina

While it is not uncommon for parents in North Carolina to seek full custody of their children, with the assistance of a family law attorney, the courts prioritize co-parenting arrangements as ideal for children. When both parents are fit (meaning that there is no history of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment), the courts will have few grounds for unilaterally diminishing either party’s parental rights.

Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

Physical custody enables a parent to have the child in their physical care, either full-time or part-time. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make significant decisions about their child’s upbringing. Both legal and physical custody can be shared by the parents or held solely by one parent.

Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

When a child resides with one parent exclusively (even if they visit the other parent), the parent who owns the primary residence has sole custody. Joint physical custody involves the child spending time with both parents. Joint physical custody can take many forms. Following a divorce, one parent may have primary physical custody, with the child living with them most of the time.

Reasons Why a Judge May Award Sole Custody

The courts are tasked with balancing protecting parental rights with the interests of children. In cases where one parent is found to be unfit to parent, the courts may find that sole custody by the mother serves the interest of the children. In certain cases, the father may voluntarily relinquish parental rights, which would give the mother full custody. Other situations where a mother could gain full custody include:

  • Abuse: Domestic violence and child abuse are factors that a judge can consider when deciding on child custody in North Carolina. The courts must weigh the potential danger to the child and mother against the potential consequences of diminishing the parental rights of the father.
  • Neglect: North Carolina family law courts prioritize the interests of the child when making custody decisions. Neglect is considered harmful to a child’s well-being and can be a crucial factor in determining custody arrangements.
  • Abandonment: Abandonment, in the context of child custody, typically refers to a parent’s willful failure to fulfill their parental duties without justifiable cause, leading to a breakdown in the parent-child relationship. If one parent has a history of abandonment, the other parent may petition the court for a modification of custody or ask that it be considered as part of a final child custody order.
  • Criminal Record: The type and severity of the offense are crucial factors that a judge may consider when determining whether a mother should be given sole custody. Serious crimes, especially those involving violence, substance abuse, or sexual offenses, can significantly affect custody decisions. These offenses raise concerns about the safety and welfare of the child.

The family courts in North Carolina prioritize the interests of the children when making custody determinations. Anyone preparing for a custody dispute in North Carolina should understand that the judge overseeing your case will have the final decision regarding your custody order. Your family law attorney can create a strategy that works to achieve your personal child custody goals.


Q: What Is the Biggest Mistake That People Make in a Custody Battle?

A: The biggest mistake that parents make in a custody battle is letting personal emotions cloud their decisions. When making their case before a family court, parents should keep their children’s interests in mind. One way to maintain objectivity when finalizing a divorce is by working with an experienced family law firm that has handled complicated child custody battles in North Carolina.

Q: Who Wins the Most Custody Battles?

A: The attorneys who win the most custody battles are the lawyers who understand North Carolina’s family law statutes and have a reputation for helping clients achieve favorable outcomes in family court, even when those victories involve reasonable compromises. Working with an attorney who has experience in Concord and its neighboring cities can help you achieve a divorce settlement that protects your parental rights.

Q: What Should I Not Say During a Custody Battle?

A: During a child custody battle, you should be careful to not say anything to your spouse that could be viewed as threatening or belligerent. Text messages, emails, and other forms of communication may be admissible in court. Maintain a cordial relationship with your spouse, and keep the conversations focused on how to co-parent in the interest of your child. Any derogatory language could ultimately weaken your child custody case.

Q: What Can You Do When Your Ex Won’t Co-Parent?

A: When your ex won’t co-parent following a final divorce decree order, you can work with a trusted family law attorney. They can help you petition the courts to modify the terms of a child custody order. This can be a crucial protection for your child if recent events have led you to believe that changes to your current custody order are warranted. Your child custody attorney can assist you by exploring which legal steps can hold your ex accountable.

Schedule Your Child Custody Consultation Today

You do not have to face the difficulties of divorce alone. Child custody disputes present tough legal challenges. The most valuable asset that you can have on your side during this challenging time is the legal guidance of a North Carolina child custody attorney. When one parent is not fit to parent, the courts may award full custody to the mother.

The Law Offices of Aimee E. Cain offer comprehensive and compassionate legal representation to help you navigate your custody dispute successfully. To schedule a consultation, contact our office today.

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