What age can a child decide which parent to live with in NC?
There is no magic age number when a child can decide who to live with under North Carolina law. When a child turns age 18 and becomes an adult they can choose to live wherever they want, but before then a judge can dictate where that child must live.
After reflection, NCGS 50-13.01 appears to be the first baby step in NC to join many other states looking to create a hard presumption of equal or joint custody when both parents are capable of sharing that responsibility. Whether 50/50 custody is a realistic possibility in your case mainly depends on what county you live in and what Judge is assigned to your case. To some counties and Judges they approach any custody dispute with a predefined idea of what “best interest” means. Some judges favor joint custody and some do not consider 50/50 custody a viable option. No matter if you are a mother or father the prospect of a judge given essentially unchecked power to decide your rights to your child is a frightening idea.
What does it mean to have 50 50 custody?
Equal custody means different things to different people. The two types of custody are physical and legal custody. The difference between physical and legal custody in NC is that legal custody goes to who can make decisions affecting the health and welfare of the child whereas physical custody goes to where the child lives and sleeps at night. A true 50-50 custody generally means the parents share joint legal and joint physical custody meaning no major decision can be made except by agreement and the minor child spends an equal amount of time or overnights with each parent.
The impact of this change in the tax code regarding spousal support is national (not just North Carolina) and will effectively make divorce more expensive for many who rely on spousal support to maintain their standard of living. As the tax change of alimony applies to Court orders and separation agreements signed after December 31, 2018 those in the middle of divorce right now have just under a year to finalize any deal under the old/current law.
Even though a creditor such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo may only be able to sue the cardholder a North Carolina family court judge can order the other spouse to make payments or account for that debt in the dividing the marital estate via property division otherwise known as equitable distribution. Equitable does not always mean equal, but judges usually try and divide marital assets 50/50 to the extent possible absent a compelling reason for an unequal distribution.
Even though PAS may not be universally recognized as science, “parental alienation” is a term frequently used in Court to describe systematic and specific actions of one parent intended to alienate a minor child from the other parent. Judges across the country approach this subject very differently with some dismissing the argument even when presented by a medical expert while other Judges appear open if not to the syndrome then at least to the idea of “parental alienation.” It is important to discuss with your family law attorney how your Judge may react to allegations of parental alienation whether being presented by you or the other parent. Keep in mind that some parents raise allegations parental alienation whenever they have been accused of abuse or when they feel they are not receiving adequate visitation. That being said isolation of a minor child from a non-custodial parent does give ample opportunity for a primary caregiver to unduly influence an impressionable minor child regardless of age.