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Will North Carolina make shared parenting the standard?

When parents seek a custody arrangement, many try to negotiate joint custody and shared parenting. This approach allows both parents to share roughly an equal amount of parenting responsibilities, and have equal time with their children. It is often the most equitable arrangement.

Along with parents who prefer this method, some state lawmakers are striving to make it the default in custody cases as well.

A new bill introduced to support shared parenting

At the beginning of March 2021, North Carolina lawmakers introduced a bill to amend the current child custody statute and add a presumption of shared parenting. Six states currently have such a presumption. A presumption of shared parenting essentially means that:

  1. Family courts would consider shared parenting as the default arrangement in custody cases
  2. Parents would have approximately equal parenting time with their children

Shared parenting would be the standard arrangement in custody cases. Of course, courts would still carefully consider the unique factors of each case to determine whether a shared parenting arrangement would be detrimental to the family. The presumption simply means shared parenting would be the court’s baseline.

What would this mean for families?

If the bill were to become law, it is important for families to understand that:

  • The best interests of the child would still come first
  • Courts will still consider the same factors they do today, under the current law

Researchers, lawmakers and many other sources have determined that shared parenting is generally in a child’s best interest. Children often benefit from having regular contact with both of their parents. This legal presumption is a step to protect both parents’ rights as well as children’s interests.

Will it become law?

The movement to pass this amendment and create a shared parenting presumption is nothing new in North Carolina. Lawmakers introduced a similar bill in 2015, but it did not make it past committee.

That is where the most recent bill currently sits as well – in a House committee. It is unclear how this new bill will fare in 2021, but it is worth noting regardless. The emphasis on shared parenting has only increased in recent years. Whether or not this bill passes, the focus on shared parenting will likely continue for both lawmakers and families.