In an ideal world, grandparents would always have great relationships with their children and grandchildren. They would also be happy to spend time together and trust their children as parents.
However, the reality is that grandparents across North Carolina face challenges when it comes to caring for and spending time with their grandchildren. Under these difficult circumstances, grandparents should understand their legal options.
One issue that grandparents often struggle with is ensuring they can still be with their grandchildren when the child’s parents are no longer willing to voluntarily allow a relationship. This can be especially important when the grandparents have played an active role in the lives of their grandchildren and have a loving bond.
Grandparents who want to protect their time with grandchildren can request visitation rights during an open custody case between the child’s parents. The courts will determine whether grandparent visitation is in a child’s best interests based on numerous factors, including whether the grandparents and child already have a substantial relationship.
In cases where visitation is not sufficient, or there is no open custody case, grandparents can seek custody of their grandchild. This is an option if there is an immediate threat to a child’s well-being, or if the child’s parent is unfit or unavailable due to abandonment or failure to shoulder the responsibilities associated with raising a child. In many cases, grandparents seek custody when a child’s parent is neglectful, incarcerated, abusive or struggling with addiction.
It can be difficult for grandparents to secure custody of their grandchildren. However, given the situations in which this may become necessary, gaining custody of a grandchild is often imperative to protect their health and safety.
When someone adopts the child
One important note for grandparents with visitation and custody concerns is that adoption can dramatically reduce the likelihood of receiving court-ordered time with a child. North Carolina laws state that grandparents are not entitled to visitation if a child is adopted by non-relatives, and the biological parents no longer have parental rights.
Securing legal support when the stakes are high
North Carolina grandparent custody and visitation laws are complex. A grandparent seeking visitation or custody of their grandchild should always consult an experienced North Carolina grandparents’ rights attorney.; Considering how high the stakes can be in these cases, it is important to secure representation from an attorney who can help you in protecting this important relationship.