If your adult child is making questionable parenting decisions, you may worry about your grandchild’s safety and well-being. However, to answer this question, depends on what’s going on. If both of your grandchildren’s parents are consistently making decisions that are bad for their kids, or if they are abusing or neglecting the children, it might be time to petition for custody of your grandchildren.
Gaining custody of grandchildren in North Carolina involves proving that there is a serious parental deficit that could override the parents’ rights. Proving the need for this custody change is a two-step process. If it is successful, you would be given custody of your grandchildren and therefore take on all the joys and obligations of parenthood. However, the court could decide in the future to send your grandchildren back to their parent’s custody if the situation improves.
The Two Steps Needed for Custody Change:
- Demonstrate parental unfitness: You must be able to provide evidence that both parents are either unfit or are consistently acting in a way that is adverse to the children’s interests. Abuse, neglect, abandonment, domestic violence toward an adult, serious substance abuse, and other things may show that.
- Prove that granting custody serves as the best interest of your grandchildren: You must be able to show the court that it is in your grandchildren’s best interest to be in your custody. It’s not enough to show the parents are unfit or making bad decisions. You must also show that you are the best option as custodian.
The Legal Standard Is High
While these steps are necessary and challenging, parents have the fundamental and constitutional right to parent their children. The courts, in principle, can’t take people’s children away without proof that the parents are unfit or that they have otherwise been acting inconsistently with the duties of a parent.
This is a threshold issue. Unless you can demonstrate unfitness, the courts can’t consider your petition for custody.
What Will the Court Consider?
Once it has been shown that your grandchildren’s parents are unfit, the court should decide to remove the children from their parents’ home or homes. As mentioned above, the court will consider whether it is in the children’s best interest to be in your custody.
To decide the children’s best interest, the courts can consider any relevant factors. Specifically, the courts will generally consider things like:
- Your living arrangements
- Your ability to care for the children
- The children’s relationships with you
- Whether you have already been acting as the children’s caregiver
- Your work schedule
- What support do you have from extended family & other resources
Custody disputes can take an emotional toll, but you don’t have to go at it alone. If you are interested in seeking custody of your grandchildren, you will need to work with an honest, compassionate attorney who understands your concerns and helps you understand whether you have a good case. Then, your attorney will need to gather evidence and argue the case before a court. Don’t lose hope – you do have options.