Step-by-Step Guidance From a Family Law Lawyer
The Limitations of Grandparent Rights
While grandparent rights and third party custody are rapidly evolving areas of family law matters in North Carolina, grandparent rights are currently quite limited. State law presumes that a child’s biological parents are the fit and proper persons to care for the minor child. In many cases, however, this is not the case and grandparents and other family members step in to raise the children.
Grandparent (third party) rights are governed by N.C.G.S. 50-13.1, which provides that “any parent, relative, or other person, agency, organization, or institution claiming the right to custody of a minor child (who has not as yet attained the age of eighteen years) may institute an action or proceeding for the custody of such child.” In order for a grandparent or third party to be awarded custody of a child, the grandparent/third party must show that the biological parents are either unfit and/or have acted inconsistent with their constitutionally protected rights as parents.
Alternatively, if there is an ongoing child custody dispute between the parents, grandparents may request to intervene in that lawsuit and ask for custody or visitation. This option is only available where the mother and father have already started a lawsuit. In these cases, it is important to hire an attorney who can communicate the needs and desires of your particular situation.
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