Joint Custody

Joint custody as a place where judges start their analysis has not been the law of North Carolina.   In fact, for many decades in North Carolina, the standard that judges use in a custody cased is the “best interest of the child.”     In other words, the judge must focus on the broad and specific needs of the child, the conduct of the parents, and the child’s environment and weigh all factors to decide what kind of custody arrangement is best for that particular child.

Things may be changing.

In some states there is a move to a different approach.

Take, for example, Maryland, and the recommendations of the Commission on Child Custody Decision Making.  Under current law, Maryland courts, like North Carolina, look at the best interest of the child when making child custody decisions. Some are pushing for a presumption of joint custody.  The Washington Post recently reported that in 2017 more than twenty states are considering creating a legal presumption that shared or joint custody is where the custody analysis starts.  See The Post’s Michael Alison Chandler article.

Where to go from here?

There might be some good reasons for the change but in my view a judge hearing a case should always be guided by the needs of the child because no family is the same and one size may not fit all.


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"Scott was wonderful throughout the long process and it was clear to me that Scott was knowledgeable of case-law and the Wake County Court system, as well as being especially strong in court. His representation resulted in additional parenting time following the temporary custody trial and since the case proceeded to a full trial, I was ultimately awarded the custody arrangement I was seeking. My daughters reside in Wake County and now if my ex-wife chooses to relocate, I’ll have full legal custody of the girls. Throughout the process, Scott was responsive, provided extremely helpful advice, and genuinely cared about the outcome of my case. I would strongly recommended Scott’s representation for custody matters."

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