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How a court determines child custody

North Carolina parents who are going through a divorce may have questions about how their living arrangements will affect the court's decision on custody. Courts have specific standards for acceptable living accommodations that vary by the court, state and judge.

The child's gender is one consideration. For example, if a parent and the child are opposite sexes, the court might require the parent's home to offer separate spaces that give the child privacy. The child may be required to have his or her own bathroom. The court also takes the sexes of the siblings into account, especially if they will be sharing a bedroom.

The court will then look at the ages of the children involved. Out of concern for an older child's need for space and privacy, a court may not want a younger child to share a bedroom with an older sibling. However, a judge should understand that not everybody can afford a large home with ample space. The child's ability to adjust will also be taken into consideration. A child who is not used to a larger home may not have trouble adjusting to a smaller living space.

A judge concerned about the best interests of the child will also have questions about the safety of the neighborhood. If there are potential threats to a child's well-being, such as local homicides, a judge may not want the child to spend ample time at the non-custodial parent's home.

Parents who are concerned about who will get custody of their children should consider an attorney with experience in child custody and family law. An attorney could prove to the court that a parent is fit to have custody or that the parent's home is adequate for overnight visits.

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