I frequently get asked: “Does the law in North Carolina prefer mothers over fathers in child custody cases?” The short answer is no. The gender preferences that once gave mothers a special status in child custody cases were stripped from the North Carolina Statutes back in the 1970’s.
Now the parents go into court with theoretical equality. Judges in North Carolina are required to look at each case on its own merits.
The important issues going into a child custody case are the past roles of each parent, the abilities of each person to effectively parent, the availability of each parent, and the needs of the child. These and other factors are presented to the judge in a child custody case and the court evaluates the best interest of the child and issues a ruling. The judge applies the law and his or her judicial discretion in reaching a child custody decision.