North Carolina Parenting Plan and Agreement Guidelines

The laws about parenting plans and agreements in North Carolina are found in Chapter 50 of the North Carolina General Statutes.

Here are some guidelines from the law to help you make your custody agreement.

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Information to include in your custody agreement

A custody agreement or parenting plan is a written document that explains how you and the other parent will share and divide the responsibilities of raising your child.

Your agreement needs to contain information about legal and physical custody.

Legal custody is the authority that parents have to make decisions about the child. Parents can share this authority or one parent can have this authority.

Physical custody is the time that each parent spends with the child. You can include a custody and visitation schedule in your agreement to show when each parent has physical custody of your child.

You agreement can also have provisions and rules to help both parents better understand their responsibility and role regarding the child.

When parents work together on a plan

The courts encourage parents to work together to make a parenting plan they both support.

If you and the other parent can negotiate and make a plan you both agree on, you can jointly submit your plan to the court.

The court will approve your plan and make it the custody order if it finds that the plan is in the best interest of the child. Plans that parents submit together are almost always approved.

Custody mediation requirement

If you and the other parent don't agree on your plan, the court will require you and the other parent to attend mediation before going to court.

In mediation, you and the other parent will meet with a neutral third party who will help you work through your conflict to make your custody agreement.

The goal of mediation is to:

  • Make a custody agreement in the child's best interest
  • Reduce conflict and resolve disputes between the parents
  • Provide parents with informed choices
  • Allow parents to make decisions about custody and visitation
  • Reduce litigation

The court will waive the mediation requirement if a parent can show good cause. Parents can also voluntarily go to mediation without a court order.

If an agreement is made in mediation, it will be written up, signed by both parents, and submitted to the court. The agreement will then become the custody order.

Process to make your agreement the custody order

If you and the other parent make an agreement together on your own or in mediation, you can submit your agreement to the court. After the judge approves the agreement, it becomes the custody order. The custody order is legally binding and both parents must follow it.

If you and the other parent can't reach an agreement, you will go to court. In court, the judge will make a custody agreement in the best interest of the child. That agreement becomes your custody order and both parents must follow it.

Parenting coordinator

A parenting coordinator is someone appointed by the court to help parents in high conflict situations make an agreement or work out conflict about an agreement already in place.

The parenting coordinator can help parents:

  • Identify disputed issues
  • Reduce misunderstandings and clarify priorities
  • Explore possibilities for compromise
  • Develop methods for the parents to collaborate
  • Comply with court ordered custody and visitation

Parents can agree to work with a parenting coordinator or the court can order them to work with one. The parents and/or the court will decide the custody issues that the coordinator will help resolve.

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The top twenty cities in North Carolina (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Cary, High Point, Wilmington, Greenville, Jacksonville, Asheville, Gastonia, Concord, Rocky Mount, Chapel Hill, Burlington, Wilson, Huntersville, Kannapolis.

Custody X Change is software that creates professional custody agreements and parenting schedules.

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