What Does a Court Consider When Determining Best Interest?

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

The Law is Focused on the Child, Not the Parent

“The best interest of the child.” When it comes to custody disputes, you are going to see and hear this term a lot. The reason is that in a North Carolina custody dispute, the overriding consideration in a court’s decisions is the child’s best interest. This includes decisions about custody, parent visitation, grandparent visitation, and electronic communication with the child. In fact, in a custody order, the court must explicitly state what facts support the best interest determination.

What is Considered in a Best Interest Determination?

Best interest is not specifically defined in North Carolina’s child custody statutes. If the concept of “best interest” seems incredibly broad, that is by design. The reason that the state does not want to define best interest is because every child and every family is different, and a court should not be limited in its ability to consider each child and that child’s unique circumstances. Despite this, there are some guiding factors that courts, by statute or by case law, have considered in reaching best interest determinations.

Three of theses factors are contained in the child custody child custody statute, North Carolina General Statutes § 50-13.2. This includes “acts of domestic violence between the parties, the safety of the child, and the safety of either party from domestic violence by the other party.” So the safety and welfare of the child are essential considerations in a best interest finding. In addition, the courts may consider:

  • What the parenting roles have been and who has been the primary caretaker of the child.
  • Where the parents plan to live.
  • The stability of the proposed homes.
  • The emotional and physical needs of the child.
  • Special medical or developmental needs of the child.
  • The educational needs of the child and educational plans of the parents.
  • The parenting ability of the parents.
  • Each parent’s work schedules and their time available to spend with the child.
  • Acts or omissions that may negatively affect the parent child relationship or ability to parent.
  • The desires of the child. However, while a child’s stated desires are important, that does not mean that the court will follow that direction.

New Direction Family Law has provided more than sixteen years of family law guidance and child advocacy in North Carolina. We know how important your children are to you. In addition, we understand how broad the best interest standard is, and what courts are looking for. Our team of aggressive and passionate attorneys will work to present enough evidence to seek your best outcome. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 for a free consultation or contact us at our website.

Sarah J. Hink

New Direction Family Law






(919) 719-3470