How to File Custody Papers in North Carolina

By Jessica Jewell

For those filing for divorce in North Carolina, the state statutes require a custody filing for all children under the age of 18 involved in the divorce when custody is contested. In order to have a judge hear a case for child custody, all papers must be filed correctly and on time to the local clerk of courts in the jurisdiction where either party resides.

Determine what kind of custody you will seek. If custody is not contested, or both parties want to share custody, neither of you needs to fill out a separate custody form when filing the primary divorce documents. If custody is contested, the plaintiff, or person filing for divorce, will also need to file a Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.

Assemble all relative facts relating to child custody. When custody is disputed, the party filing for custody will need to prove that it is in the interest of the child’s welfare for the court to grant custody to the filing party. Facts that the court takes into consideration, based on the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, will be educational opportunities, safety, quality of housing, residency in the state, and in some cases with children over the age of 5, which parent the child wants to live with.

Go to the jurisdiction's clerk of courts office to file the papers. You can find the office address in the phone book or online. For example, if you live in North Carolina’s Wake County, search “Clerk of Courts Wake County, North Carolina” on your Internet browser. In some counties, the required documents are available for download and printing directly from the website.

File a Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act form. Make sure that you fill out the form accurately and you state the reason you are filing for custody based on the assembled facts. If a divorce is heatedly contested, you may want to consider acquiring legal representation to help in assembling relevant facts for the court. The filing fee in most areas is $75, as of May 2010, which is the fee for an absolute divorce including child custody filing.

Submit any subsequent documents required by the clerk of court’s office. Once you have filed your primary documents, the clerk’s office may contact you for additional information. Make sure that you file those documents on time in order for your case to be heard by the court.