How Can You Lose Custody Of Your Child? What NC Laws Say About Parental Rights

Child custody battles are legal issues that need to be tackled sensitively and sensibly. As kids are involved, this type of legal issue is often complicated. In North Carolina specifically, multiple laws elaborately discuss child custody cases. Right from how these cases go about to the requisites for custody agreements between the parents, these laws have it all covered.

Apart from these aspects, some of these statutes also stipulate conditions under which a parent can lose custody of their child. In this article, we’ve covered some key aspects one needs to be cautious about to ensure they do not lose custody of their children. Let’s have a look:

North Carolina Child Custody Laws Elaborated

The Judicial Branch of North Carolina states that child custody is primarily of two types – legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right of a parent to make major life decisions for the child and care for the child. Physical custody, on the other hand, means the right to have the child in the physical care of the parent. This custody may either be part-time or full-time.

Additionally,  it states that the legal and physical custody of a child may be held by one parent or may be shared by both parents, depending on the circumstances and conditions prevailing. It further states that ‘visitation’ rights branch out as a secondary form of custody and grant either parent the right to visit the child at decided times in accordance with conditions stipulated in the court order.

If both parents are in agreement about the custody of a child, there is no requirement for a custody order. The parents may either agree to sole custody, wherein one parent has legal and physical custody of the child or opt for joint custody, where the parents consult each other for major decisions to be taken for the child’s welfare.

However, if the parents cannot come to a consensus about the custody of the child, they can approach the court for a custody order and adhere to it. Also, if there is no custody order, both parents share the child’s custody equally.

Depending on the circumstances, either or both parents may be granted custody of the child. However, there are certain circumstances under which a parent may lose custody of their child. These conditions, as per the North Carolina custody law, are as follows:

  1. If the parent has been convicted of heinous offenses such as of murder of another child of the parent or another child residing in the house.
  2. If the parent has been found to abuse or willfully neglect the child.
  3. If the parent is incapable of providing proper care and supervision to the child due to different reasons such as intellectual disability, substance abuse, mental illness or any other condition that renders them incapable of taking care of the child.
  4. If the parent has been found guilty of sexual offenses that resulted in the conception of a juvenile.
  5. If the parent has willfully left the child in foster care.
  6. If the parent has willfully abandoned the child for 6 months before filing the motion.

While there are certain conditions and circumstances which may result in the termination of child custody, the law is completely clear on the aspect of poverty. It states that parental rights cannot be terminated merely on the grounds that a parent is incapable of caring for the child due to poverty.

Fathers of juveniles born out of wedlock can lose parental rights if they fail to file an affidavit of paternity with the Department of Health and Human Services. They can also lose parental rights if they fail to marry the child’s mother, provide financial assistance for the child’s care, or fail to prove paternity under other existing laws.

On a concluding note, the child custody laws in North Carolina are child-centric and consider the best interests of the child before granting any custody order. For more advice on custody law, you can always reach out to a Nashville family law attorney and gain better insight into the North Carolina custody laws.


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