A Brighter Future Awaits.

Will My Children Have to Pick Which Parent to Live With in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Divorce, Family Law |

The short answer is no, but a judge might take your children’s wishes into account when deciding where they should live, if it comes to a judge deciding.

In North Carolina Custody Cases, Judges May or May Not Consider the Children’s Wishes

No one wants to have the children pick which parent to live with. It would put your kids in a terrible position. It can be traumatic for children to have to choose between their parents.

That doesn’t mean your children’s wishes count for nothing in the family law court system. When child custody decisions come to the court (and they don’t always), the judge will consider the situation and decide on a case-by-case basis whether to ask the children their preferences.

Furthermore, even if the judge decides to ask your children their preferences, he or she might then determine they are not mature enough for their preferences to be taken into account.

If the judge does decide to consider the children’s preferences, those preferences will be only one of several factors in the overall decision. The other factors include:

  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver
  • Preserving the status quo
  • What the childcare arrangements have been
  • Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse
  • Whether a parent’s sexual conduct has impacted the children
  • Keeping brothers and sisters together
  • Each parent’s religious practices, so far as they contribute to the children’s best interests
  • Each parent’s living situation, including neighborhood and standard of living
  • The schools each parent has access to

North Carolina judges consider each factor, weighing them against one another. The judge’s ultimate decision will be what he or she believes to be in the children’s best interest.

What If My Spouse Has Been Abusive to the Kids?

Allegations of domestic violence or child abuse are taken very seriously by the courts. If you believe your divorcing spouse would abuse or neglect your children, you should tell your lawyer immediately. We might ask the judge to consider their strong, reasoned preferences in such a case.

However, whether there was domestic violence or child abuse is itself a factor in the judge’s list of things to consider.

Custody Depends a Lot on the Situation

Every family dynamic is different, and that means every child custody arrangement must be different. Your lawyer’s first job is to listen. Your attorney needs to understand your exact situation and concerns so they can make the arguments from your point of view. Be sure to work with someone who is compassionate as well as effective in the courtroom.


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