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What custody rights do North Carolina grandparents have?

Like other grandparents, you likely consider your grandchild one of life’s greatest gifts and are thankful for the time you get to spend with him or her. Should issues arise between your child and his or her spouse, however, it may threaten your relationship with your grandchild, as well as your grandchild’s well-being. Therefore, it may benefit you to understand North Carolina’s laws regarding grandparents’ rights.

According to North Carolina state law, if your grandchild’s parents are involved in a child custody case, you may also petition the court for visitation rights. The court may see fit to allow such privileges provided a judgment has not been entered in the parents’ custody cases and such contact is considered in the child’s best interests.

In situations when custody is determined, state law allows you to petition the court to modify the existing order or visitation schedule. To be granted visitation in such cases, however, you must show that substantial changes in circumstances have occurred since the original order was entered that are affecting your grandchild’s welfare.

If one or both of your grandchild’s parents are unprepared for parenthood, you may have taken on the responsibility of providing and caring for your grandchild. In such situations, state law provides a path for you to pursue legal, physical custody of your grandchild. Courts may grant such petitions when it is determined that your grandchild’s parents are not fit to parent or have not consistently followed through with their parental rights.

State law allows you to also seek visitation in situations when your grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent or another relative. In such cases, the court may see fit to allow you visitation time if you can show a substantial relationship between you and your grandchild. You cannot seek visitation, however, if your grandchild has been adopted by non-relatives or parents who are otherwise not related and both of your grandchild’s biological parents have lost their parental rights.

The information contained in this post is not intended as legal advice. Rather, it should be considered for general purposes only.