Grandparent / Family Child Custody and Visitation

In certain situations, if you are a grandparent or other interested third party, it is possible to gain custody of and/or visitation rights with your grandchild. There are four different laws in North Carolina that address grandparent custody (third-party custody) and visitation rights.

Depending on the circumstances involved, the four statutes that provide for grandparent or third-party custody and visitation include:

  1. If the parents of the child are unfit and acted inconsistently with the parent’s constitutionally protected status as parents, grandparents are able to begin a legal proceeding to obtain custody through the Courts. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.1.
  2. If the parents of the minor child are engaged in ongoing litigation with the court for custody of the minor child and, where a substantial relationship exists between the grandparent and the child. The grandparent(s)  may petition the court to be allowed to intervene under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.2(b1). By becoming a part of the action, grandparents may then seek visitation rights.
  3. If the parents of the child have previously had a prior court case, but an Order for custody is in place, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.5(j) allows an interested party, such as grandparents, upon a showing of changed circumstances, to ask the court to reopen the case to modify the Order and grant them visitation or custody.
  4. If the minor child has been adopted by a person within the family unit, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.2A allows for grandparents to start a court proceeding to obtain visitation rights with that child if the grandparent(s) has a substantial relationship with the child. The person that adopted the child can be a step-parent or any other relative.  If the child has been adopted by third parties not related to the child, then grandparents would not be able to pursue visitation of the child.

A substantial relationship is considered any regular contact or visits with the child. In addition, the person making the request must show that the custody and/or visitation is in the best interest of the child. In cases where an order is being modified, the requestor must additionally show the court a substantial change of circumstances affecting the welfare of the child has occurred since the last order was put into place.

Matters of child custody can be complex and emotional. It is important that you seek the assistance and representation of an experienced attorney to guide you through the process and advocate for you. Our attorneys have the knowledge to pursue visitation and custody to ensure that your relationship with your grandchild is preserved.

At Stroud and Panetti, P.C., we have over 30 years in experience in representing and protecting our clients’ interests in the Winston-Salem area.  No matter how big or small your matter is, we will ensure that your interests are represented. If you are seeking grandparent or family visitation and custody of a child, or if you are a parent faced with defending an action by a grandparent or family member we can help. Call us today for a consultation with our family law attorneys at 336-724-2600.