What Rights do Grandparents Have in North Carolina?

What Rights do Grandparents Have in North Carolina?

In the state of North Carolina, there are no laws that are legally defined regarding grandparent visitation rights. Nevertheless, there are several aspects of the law and various legal options that grandparents may use to their advantage when desiring to have contact and visitation with their grandchildren.

In North Carolina, if the parents of a child become separated and either one of the parents files a petition to gain child custody, a grandparent may also petition the court to become a party to the legal action for the specific purposes of seeking to have visitation privileges with the grandchild. The court must rule that the grandparent has an established “substantial relationship” with the child and, therefore, is in the child’s best interest. In this type of case, the intervening grandparent must petition the court before a judge makes a determination regarding child custody. Once this has been completed, the grandparent can no longer petition the court in regard to the case.

Another legal avenue that grandparents may pursue is filing a petition with the court in order to modify an existing order of child custody or visitation. The grandparent must be able to demonstrate to the court that a considerable change in the circumstances surrounding the child has occurred that makes a modification necessary. This option is also available to the parents of the child.

If a child has been legally adopted by a step-parent or another relative, a grandparent may opt to petition the court to initiate legal proceedings in order to pursue visitation with their grandchild. Again, the grandparent must be able to establish that they have a substantial relationship with the child in question.

Can Grandparents See Their Grandchildren After They Have Been Adopted?

The biological grandparents of a child do not have any legal rights that entitle them to be able to visit a child if the biological parents have had their parental rights terminated and the child has been adopted by non-biological parents. Once the parental rights of the parents are legally terminated, this also terminates any rights that the grandparents may have also had regarding visitation.

Can Grandparents File for Legal Custody of Their Grandchildren?

There are certain situations in which a grandparent can file for legal custody of their grandchildren. For the most part, these types of cases usually center around situations in which the parents are not able to adequately provide for the needs of the child due to addiction or mental health issues. Another factor that may be considered is when parents allow a child to reside with a grandparent for a prolonged amount of time. Of course, just as with any other child custody case, there is a burden of proof that must be shown as to why legal custody should be awarded to the grandparent. In all cases such as these, a judge makes the final determination as to where the child should live, taking into account what is in their best interests.

It should also be explained that if the biological parent or parents have custody of the child but have denied visitation rights to the grandparents, the grandparents do not have the legal right to challenge the custody arrangements solely on those grounds alone.

Why Should I Consider Hiring a Grandparents Rights Attorney to Help Me?

It is often said that becoming a grandparent is the reward that we receive for successfully raising our own children. The bond between grandparent and grandchild is definitely one that is cherished by so many. The attorneys at our law firm understand the strong emotional ties that exist between grandparents and their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent and feel that you have cause to file for custody of your grandchild(ren), please contact our office. We will be happy to discuss your legal options.

Areas We Serve

Centrally located on the waterfront in downtown Elizabeth City, our team provides quality legal representation across the following counties in the Northeast North Carolina region.

  • Camden County
  • Gates County
  • Chowan County
  • Pasquotank County
  • Currituck County
  • Perquimans County
  • Dare County

Also serving only criminal and traffic cases in the following counties:

  • Beaufort County
  • Tyrrell County
  • Martin County
  • Washington County

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law N/a
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Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462
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Elizabeth City, NC 27909
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