North Carolina Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines

The laws about custody and visitation 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 and visitation schedule.

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Physical custody

Your North Carolina custody agreement must have information about physical custody. Physical custody is where your child lives and when each parent spends time with the child.

You can have joint physical custody, where your child lives with both parents, or sole physical custody, where your child lives with one parent and visits the other parent.

If you and the other parent agree on the type of custody and your schedule, the court will usually approve it. If you do not agree, the court will decide your custody arrangements.

Custody and visitation schedule

You can include information about physical custody in your agreement by making a custody and visitation schedule.

Your custody and visitation schedule should have:

You can make your schedule in a custody calendar so it's easy to see what's going on. You can include your calendar and your schedule written in legal terms in your agreement.

You can also include provisions about your schedule in your agreement so it's easier for both parents to follow the schedule.

Electronic visitation

Your custody agreement can also have information about visitation rights by electronic communication.

Electronic communication is contact, other than in person, by electronic means. This includes contact by telephone, e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging, facetime, video calls, etc.

You can set up guidelines for electronic visitation that cover the following:

  • The hours in which the communication can be made
  • How the parents will share the costs of electronic communication
  • How parents will share access information in order for the child to have electronic communication

Electronic communication is in addition to regular visitation with the child. It doesn't replace physical visitation and it doesn't impact child support.

The court may order electronic communication in the agreement. It can also order that the communication be supervised.

Ways to make a schedule

You and the other parent can negotiate a schedule together and the court will make your agreed on schedule the custody order.

If you and the other parent can't decide on a custody schedule, you must go to mediation before you go to court.

A mediator is a neutral party that will work with both of you and help you decide on the issues you could not resolve. If you can reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator will write up your schedule and submit it to the court.

The court can also appoint a parenting coordinator to help parents in high conflict cases. The parenting coordinator helps the parents work out specific issues and come to an agreement before going to court.

If you can't reach an agreement in mediation or with a parenting coordinator, you must go to court and the judge will decide your custody and visitation schedule.

North Carolina custody and visitation policies

You should consider these policies as you make your custody and visitation schedule:

  • When granting custody, the court doesn't favor the mother or father
  • The court grants custody according to the best interest and welfare of the child
  • If either parent requests joint custody, the court will consider it
  • Parents may be required to abstain from alcohol during custody or visitation
  • The court will grant visitation to a grandparent if it's in the child's best interest

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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.

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