When parents decide to get a divorce, their first concerns usually revolve around their children. They wonder what the custody arrangement will be and how much one-on-one parenting time they will have with their children after the divorce.
The custody agreement that families reach heavily depends on their individual circumstances. It is important to keep that fact in mind as we take a look at a new report card that graded North Carolina fairly low regarding shared parenting.
Shared parenting report card gives North Carolina a low grade
The National Parenting Organization recently published its 2019 Shared Parenting Report Card. This report gave North Carolina a D- in shared parenting. This grade was based solely on the fact that the state law does not have a presumption of joint custody or shared parenting time.
It is true that the state law does not have such a presumption, even though family courts will consider joint custody if either one or both parents ask for it. However, this does not mean that divorcing parents’ rights are not protected, or that one parent is favored over the other when determining custody.
Let’s take a closer look at North Carolina’s laws
North Carolina laws may not have a law on the books that presumes joint custody is the best possible arrangement for families. However, it is important to remember that North Carolina law’s best interest of the child standard does not in any way prevent a court from considering this.
Putting a child’s best interests first is a critical factor, and, in a way, this factor does allow parents to negotiate an arrangement that best meets the needs of the child rather than focusing their needs. There is a state law that also encourages both divorcing parents to:
- Create child-centered parenting agreements;
- Take equal responsibility for the child;
- Actively participate in their child’s life;
- Share the rights of raising their child; and
- Promote their child’s relationship with both parents.
This law may not explicitly state that joint custody or shared parenting is the best arrangement or even the court’s presumption. However, the law does emphasize the importance of retaining equal parenting rights and maintaining the child’s relationship with both parents.
Therefore, the grade of D- regarding shared parenting is not necessarily accurate when we consider the ways our laws do protect both children and parents in the event of a divorce.