Grandparents have some rights to custody and visitation of their grandchildren in North Carolina. However, these rights are fairly limited. There are only a few specific situations where a grandparent can bring a claim for custody or visitation.
Even if you can file an action for custody or visitation, there is no guarantee you will get these rights. In some cases, you will have a difficult battle to win your case.
Custody for Grandparents
Grandparents, along with other relatives or interested parties, can bring an action for child custody at any time. § 50-13.1. However, the parent’s right to custody of their child will almost always overcome a grandparent’s rights.
For this action to succeed, the parents must be shown to be unfit or unable to care for their children. Then, the grandparent must show that their custody would be in the best interest of the child. This standard is difficult to meet because a court typically does not want to interfere with a parent’s right to have custody of their child.
Visitation for Grandparents
Visitation can be sought in various ways. If there is currently a child custody proceeding taking place, the grandparents can intervene in the case and ask the court for visitation rights. These rights can vary in duration and frequency, and must be in the best interest of the child. The judge has discretion to decide these issues.
In cases where there is no ongoing custody dispute, the legal situation changes for grandparents. Visitation can only be sought upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. This could mean that the grandparents formerly visited with their child, but were then cut off from visitation by the parents.
There is also a special rule in cases where the child has been adopted by a relative or stepparent. The grandparent can file a lawsuit for visitation rights at any time under these circumstances, provided you can show that you have a substantial relationship with the child.
If your grandchild is part of a custody dispute, you may be better asserting your visitation rights during this proceeding. Consult a family law attorney to figure out your options for getting custody or visitation of your grandchild.
The lawyers at King Law can help you through the difficult process of separation, divorce, and child custody.We invite you to come in and talk with one of our family law attorneys during an in-person consultation. Our number is 888-748-KING (5464).