Child custody, be it joint or sole, is valid in North Carolina if it’s part of a court order or a properly executed agreement. A consent order can be obtained to eliminate the necessity for a trial. Even if one spouse has filed a lawsuit, both spouses can come to an agreement and ask the court to approve it. Courts almost always approve such agreements, which are known as consent orders.

The type of custody determination – court order or agreement – can make some difference. Each one is treated differently and enforced differently if there’s a need to change visitation or custody in the future. Consult with a local divorce attorney to find out what’s best for you and your child/children.

What does Physical Custody mean?

This refers to the place where the child will reside. If one parent has physical custody, the other is usually granted visitation rights – except in extraordinary situations. Courts generally deem it desirable and healthy for children to have regular contact with their non-custodial parents.


  • Reasonable Visitation: This gives the parents flexibility to determine when visitations will take place. For this option to work, however, the parents must agree on what is “reasonable.”
  • Structured Visitation: In this case, a schedule is strictly followed. An example would be every second weekend (Friday evening to Sunday evening), alternating the holidays throughout the year, and a certain number of weeks in the summer vacation.
  • Joint Physical Custody: The schedule allows the child to reside with each parent for a significant amount of time.

(Articles on this blog are provided for informational purposes only. Use of this blog does not provide or replace individualized legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, please speak with one of our attorneys, who can offer legal advice specific to your circumstances.)