North Carolina Family Law: An Overview of Rights, Regulations, and Responsibilities

From marriage and divorce to child custody and adoption, North Carolina family law covers a wide range of issues. If you need to resolve a legal problem, you will want to understand the state’s rights, regulations, and responsibilities. Let’s examine all the key points of North Carolina family law.

Marriage and Divorce

Before a couple ties the knot, there are certain legal requirements. First, they need to get a marriage license at their local county register of deeds office. Additionally, both parties must be at least 18 or have parental consent if younger and not closely related by blood. North Carolina recognizes common-law marriages under specific circumstances.

Hopefully, the spouses will be able to have a happy life. But if the marriage breaks down, then they can seek a divorce. After a year of living in separate homes, the spouses can seek a no-fault divorce

When it comes time to divide assets and debts, North Carolina follows equitable distribution. All the marital property acquired throughout the marriage will be divided fairly. Keep in mind that this does not mean an equal split of assets. 

Child Custody and Visitation

Like most states, North Carolina has two legal and physical custody types: sole and joint. Physical custody is where the child will live, while legal custody allows the parent(s) to make decisions on the minor’s behalf. 

As you may imagine, sole custody is awarded to a single parent. On the other hand, joint custody allows both parents to play an active role in the child’s life. 

While the court looks at many factors, the child’s best interests are prioritized above all. Parents who want to seek custody must be able to provide them with a stable and healthy environment. 

In some cases, grandparents can request visitation rights. Once again, the child’s best interests are at the forefront. 

Unmarried parents have the same custody rights as those who are married. The mother will automatically have primary custody. However, the biological father will have to establish his paternity and request visitation or custody. 

Child Support

There are certain guidelines to determine child support, such as the current custody arrangement and the parent’s income. Both parents must be able to provide for their children financially. 

If there is a change in income or living situation, then that party can request a modification to child support from the courts. Failing to meet their child support needs can leave a person in legal trouble. They may face wage garnishment or a suspension of a driver’s license.


In North Carolina, there are several steps to the adoption process. Many times, the birth parents’ rights must be terminated. For those who want to adopt, any prospective adoptive parents undergo a home study to assess their suitability. 

Once they are approved, the child is placed with the adoptive family. However, the adoption is not finalized until the courts grant the official order. After that happens, these individuals will have the same rights and obligations as biological parents.

Protective Orders

Domestic violence is a serious offense in the state, and there are options for victims. Protective orders prohibit contact and may require the offender to leave the home. Those affected can file for a protective order at their local courthouse. The court will look at all the evidence of abuse and assess the need for protection.

Many Aspects of North Carolina Family Law 

North Carolina family law can shape the family dynamics of residents in the state. Whether you’re contemplating marriage, facing divorce, or considering adoption, you will want to get the right legal advice for your case.  

If you would like to learn more about the options for your family law case, please contact the attorneys at Stephen E. Robertson Law Office. Contact us today to schedule a consultation for your case. You can set up an appointment by calling 336-370-6760 today.