Guide to Grandparents’ Rights in North Carolina

Guide to Grandparents’ Rights in North Carolina

While North Carolina acknowledges the importance of the bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren, the state has fairly restrained legal rights for grandparents in comparison to other states. Unlike elsewhere, there are no specific North Carolina statutes that provide a grandparent with visitation rights.

When a grandparent learns that their child is going through a divorce, one of the grandparents’ main concerns is likely whether or not they can continue to visit with their grandchildren after the divorce. It’s natural to want to remain a part of your grandchild’s life, and it is understandable that you would be concerned about your legal rights to remain so. North Carolina, after all, has only limited rights for grandparents seeking visitation or custody rights of their grandchildren.

In certain circumstances, a grandparent may elect to file a lawsuit for the right to visit with their grandchildren. Also, grandparents have the legal option to seek custody of a grandchild they believe has been neglected, abandoned, or lives in a dangerous situation.

These legal concerns are complicated and highly emotional in nature. Grandparents concerned about their legal rights are encouraged to seek professional legal counsel for assistance with their case. Our law firm has extensive experience in family law practice areas like divorce and the rights of grandparents, and we would be proud to lend our legal help to you in these matters.

Do Grandparents Have Legal Visitation Rights in North Carolina?

A grandparent’s visitation rights may be court-ordered as part of a child custody order. North Carolina law gives a family law court authority to provide visitation rights for any grandparent of the child as the court deems appropriate. If a child custody order is already in place, it may be possible to request a modification of child support orders. The child’s grandparents may be entitled to visitation rights if the court and family law judge deem it appropriate.

For grandparents hoping to obtain legal visitation rights, it may be necessary to present relevant evidence to a family law court of a long-standing and healthy relationship between the grandchild and the grandparents. If such a relationship existed and it can be shown that maintaining that relationship would be in the best interests of the child, family law courts may deem it appropriate to grant visitation rights to a grandparent.

Visitation rights are not granted to grandparents in situations where children are taken away from unfit parents or given up for adoption.

What Are Grandparents’ Custody Rights in NC?

It is possible for grandparents to seek custody of a minor child by filing a custody action. There may be many instances where this is apt, such as situations where an underage child’s parents die, and the grandparents wish to adopt the grandchildren. But so long as one of the biological parents is yet living, the courts are reluctant to surrender child custody to anyone else.

Grandparents may also petition for child custody of their grandchildren if they believe that the living parents are unfit to care for those children. To be successful, the grandparents would need to establish proof of abuse, mental instability, abandonment, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or an inability to care for the child.

If multiple parties are seeking to take the child in, family law judges must take several factors into consideration and ultimately decide what they think would be in the best interest of the child. Factors they would consider when deciding whether to grant child custody to the grandparents include the grandparent’s economic situation, caretaking abilities, home environment, moral well-being, physical health, and the bond between them.

Can a Parent Deny Visitation?

If the parents are able to provide a healthy environment for their children and the family remains intact, they are under no obligation to grant visitation rights to grandparents. It is within a parent’s rights to deny visitation to the grandchild’s grandparents.

You may have legal options available to you, but the recommended course of action is to attempt to repair burnt bridges.

Can Grandparents Sue for Visitation Rights?

If grandparents are transitionally denied access to their grandchildren, it may be possible for them to sue for visitation rights by filing a motion to intervene.

After filing a motion to intervene and reviewing the facts of the case, a family law court will determine whether it is appropriate to allow grandparents to become a third party and the lawsuit for the purposes of seeking visitation rights during divorce proceedings. Grandparents who wish to file a lawsuit for visitation rights are encouraged to retain individual legal representation to represent their interests.

Contact Us to Schedule a Consultation Today

Kreider Attorneys at Law is a law firm located in Greensboro, North Carolina. We take pride in providing compassionate, communicative, and honest legal services to clients in need of legal help. Our law firm covers a wide range of practice areas, including divorce cases, child custody cases, and grandparent’s rights. We encourage those curious about family law and your legal rights to contact our Greensboro, NC, law offices to schedule your initial consultation today. In your case evaluation, we can go over your legal options and help you determine the most surefire way to achieve your goals.

You may contact us at 336-770-2017