Third-Party Rights Or Grandparents’ Rights
Third-party rights to custody and visitation have changed dramatically in North Carolina in the last two decades. Third-party petitions for custody and visitation are typically brought by grandparents, aunts and uncles, other family members or other potential caretakers.
Our team at Scott Law Group, routinely works with grandparents and others attempting to establish custody and visitation rights. Our local presence and years of legal and professional experience help us provide the information, resource and skilled representation our clients need and deserve to protect the relationships they have with the children in their lives.
We Stay Current With All The Changes
In North Carolina, there is a parental preference toward natural and adoptive parents. Before 1994, the North Carolina statutes allowed custody or visitation to any person able to prove to the satisfaction of the court that the requested custody or visitation was in the best interests of the child, regardless of the party’s biological relationship to the child. In the 1990s, two cases changed North Carolina child custody and visitation law. Petersen vs. Rogers established a parental preference, where a biological or adoptive parent has a constitutional right to the care, custody and control of his or her minor child. This does not extend to stepparents. Third parties are now required to show that a parent is unfit to care for the child. Then, in Price vs. Howard, the court included other parental conduct as a factor for determining the best interests of the child.
In order for a third party to be granted custody or visitation with a minor child, the nonparent must allege facts sufficient to prove that a parent is unfit, has neglected the welfare of the child, or has otherwise acted in a manner inconsistent with his or her protected status as a parent.
Additionally, not all third parties have standing to petition for custody and visitation. A nonparent must also show a sufficient relationship with the child. A third party with no relationship with the child does not have a standing for custody or visitation. If a parent has his or her parental rights terminated, he or she loses all constitutionally protected rights to petition for custody or visitation of the minor child.