If parents in North Carolina get a divorce and do not share custody, one parent will generally be considered the custodial parent while the other has visitation rights. Simply being a single parent who has the child living at home while the other parent is largely absent does not automatically make someone the custodial parent, and if this is the situation, the parent may want to consult an attorney about whether it is necessary to establish custodial rights.
Being a custodial parent has advantages and disadvantages. One of the primary advantages is that the custodial parent gets the bulk of time with the child. Even a generous visitation arrangement does not compare to having the child in the home more than half the time and dealing with the daily routine of parenting including helping children with homework or through emotional turmoil. However, being the custodial parent can also mean that a parent is the target of any frustration or other negative emotions the child is feeling.
Usually, the noncustodial parent is required to pay support to the custodial parent although this may vary depending upon income and other factors. A custodial parent may need to file for child support in order to begin receiving it.
The court takes several factors into account when deciding how much child support a parent will pay. Child support may change based on which parent pays for the child's health insurance or if the child has special needs. Child support might also change if there is a change in the income of the parents. However, once a formal child support order is in place, parents must return to court and ask for a modification to have it changed. A parent will continue to owe the same amount until the modification is granted.