Wilson v. Wilson, 295

Citation269 N.C. 676,153 S.E.2d 349
Decision Date22 March 1967
Docket NumberNo. 295,295
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
PartiesBetty Louise WILSON v. Carl O. WILSON, Jr.

Walter C. Benson, Charlotte, for defendant appellee.

PLESS, Justice:

While it is true that a parent, if a fit and suitable person, is entitled to the custody of his child, it is equally true that where fitness and suitability are absent he loses this right. 'Where there are unusual circumstances and the best interest of the child justifies such action, a court may refuse to award custody to either the mother or father and instead award the custody of the child to grandparents or others. There may be occasions where even 'a parent's love must yield to another if after judicial investigation it is found that the best interest of the child is subserved thereby.' But the parent's right, by nature and law, to the custody of minor children should never be denied except for the most cogent reasons as where it is clearly shown to be unqualified.' 3 Lee, N.C. Family Law, Sec. 224; Tyner v. Tyner, 206 N.C. 776, 175 S.E. 144; James v. Pretlow, 242 N.C. 102, 86 S.E.2d 759; Holmes v. Sanders, 246 N.C. 200, 97 S.E.2d 683. In the same work it is said that 'This right (of custody) cannot be taken from a parent merely because the court may believe that some third person can give the child better care and greater comforts and protection than the parent, a parent's right to custody of a child being forfeitable only by misconduct or by other facts which substantially affect the child's welfare.' See also James v. Pretlow, supra.

Judge Copeland gave patient and full consideration to the evidence; he observed the parties for two days, saw the type of witnesses offered by both and thus had an opportunity to evaluate the situation that cannot be shown by the printed page.

In these days of discouraging and alarming frequency of divorce, the courts have been compelled to give more frequent application to the rule that the welfare of the child is the primary consideration. The welfare or best interest of the child is always to be treated as the paramount consideration, to which even parental love must yield, and wide discretionary power is necessarily vested in the trial court in reaching decisions in particular cases. Griffin v. Griffin, 237 N.C. 404, 75 S.E.2d 133; Walker v. Walker, 224 N.C. 751, 32 S.E.2d 318.

'The welfare of the child in controversies involving custody is the polar star by which the courts must be guided in awarding custody.' Thomas v. Thomas, 259 N.C. 461, 130 S.E.2d 871, quoting Kovacs v. Brewer, 245 N.C. 630, 97 S.E.2d 96.

There was ample evidence to support Judge Copeland's findings that the mother and her...

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30 cases
  • Spence v. Durham
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 31 Agosto 1973
    ...substantially affecting the welfare of the children. Shepherd v. Shepherd, 273 N.C. 71, 159 S.E.2d 357 (1968); Wilson v. Wilson, 269 N.C. 676, 153 S.E.2d 349 (1967); Thomas v. Thomas, 259 N.C. 461, 130 S.E.2d 871 (1963); Hardee v. Mitchell, 230 N.C. 40, 51 S.E.2d 884 (1949); Holmes v. Holme......
  • Price v. Howard
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 9 Mayo 1997
    ...and interest of his child, he waives his usual right of custody." Id. at 437, 119 S.E.2d at 191. See also Wilson v. Wilson, 269 N.C. 676, 677, 153 S.E.2d 349, 351 (1967) (stating that "[w]hile it is true that a parent, if a fit and suitable person, is entitled to the custody of his child, i......
  • Balawejder v. Balawejder
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 18 Octubre 2011
    ...Thomas, 259 N.C. 461, 130 S.E.2d 871 [ (1963) ], quoting Kovacs v. Brewer, 245 N.C. 630, 97 S.E.2d 96 [ (1957) ].Wilson v. Wilson, 269 N.C. 676, 678, 153 S.E.2d 349, 351 (1967). The trial court made appropriate findings, pursuant to N.C. Gen.Stat. § 50–13.2(a), as to the conditions that exi......
  • Dunn v. Covington
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 7 Julio 2020
    ...true that where fitness and suitability are absent he loses this right.’ " Id. at 75, 484 S.E.2d at 532 (quoting Wilson v. Wilson , 269 N.C. 676, 677, 153 S.E.2d 349, 351 (1967) ). Our Supreme Court then adopted the following test for determining when the "best interest of the child" analys......
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