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Co-Parenting in North Carolina: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents


In North Carolina, legal custody is defined as "the right and the duty to make major decisions regarding the child's nurture, health, education, and welfare" (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.1). This decision-making is typically split between the two parents, with one parent being designated as the primary custodial parent and the other as the secondary custodial parent. This split is usually determined on a case-by-case basis, but there is a default presumption that the mother should be designated as the primary custodial parent.


Child Support

Child support is an important part of co-parenting in North Carolina. Under state law, child support must be paid by the non-custodial parent to aid in covering the costs of raising a child. In North Carolina, a standard calculation is used to determine the amount of child support that a non-custodial parent is expected to pay. This calculation takes into consideration factors such as the gross incomes of both parents and the amount of time the non-custodial parent spends with the child. Raleigh, NC based family law firm Batch, Poore & Williams, PC has provided a comprehensive discussion and child support worksheets


Co-Parenting Expenses

In addition to child support, parents may also be required to split certain co-parenting expenses such as daycare, school fees, and extracurricular activities. Parents may negotiate ahead of time during the process of drafting a parenting plan on how these costs will be paid. If no agreement is reached, courts may step in and make decisions on how these costs should be split.


Parental Rights

In North Carolina, both parents retain the right to make decisions regarding the life of their child, such as their health care, education, and welfare. If they cannot come to a mutual agreement on how to handle a situation, they can ask the court to intervene. It is important to note, however, that courts are more likely to rule in favor of the custodial parent, so non-custodial parents may want to negotiate as much as possible with the custodial parent.



When it comes to making decisions, North Carolina law requires the best interests of the child to be considered first and foremost. Courts have an obligation to look out for the welfare of the child, and will take into account any relevant evidence, such as the child’s need for stability and the mental and emotional health of both parents. Courts also have the ability to modify or change decisions regarding custody, child support or co-parenting expenses if either parent is not fulfilling their obligations.


Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a document that outlines how the parents will handle decision-making, parenting time and visitation, and communication between the two households. Parenting plans should be tailored to meet the needs of the specific family, but should also be reflective of North Carolina state law. Additionally, all decisions outlined in the parenting plan must be in the best interests of the child.


Visitation Rights

In North Carolina, the visitation plan must be discussed and agreed upon between the parents and approved by the court. The visitation plan should include details such as how long the visit should last, who is responsible for transportation, what costs will be covered, and how any changes to the visitation plan will be handled. Additionally, it is important to remember that all decisions must be made in the best interest of the child.



If the parents cannot agree on specific issues relating to co-parenting, they can use a mediator to help them come to an agreement. Mediators will assess the situation and provide non-biased advice to help the parents reach an outcome that is in the best interests of the child. Additionally, many counties in North Carolina offer free mediation services and family counseling that parents can use to help resolve their disputes.


Overall, co-parenting in North Carolina requires both parents to respect one another and remain involved in the life of their child. Although this can be a difficult arrangement, understanding the laws and expectations about co-parenting can help ensure that success for the entire family.


Fact Check and Sources

In writing this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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