Grandparents can be an important fixture in the life of a child. Grandparents love and nurture their grandchildren. The bond between grandparent and grandchild can be really special. If you are a grandparent and your child is separating from their partner, you may worry about your relationship with your grandchild.
Parents usually have the right to determine who will spend time with their child and how their child is raised. If you worry about the care your grandchild will receive post-separation, you may want to take legal action.
North Carolina has four statutes that allow grandparents to seek visitation and even custody in particular situations.
- This statute establishes that parents, relatives, and other qualifying individuals can initiate custody actions. A broad range of situations that involve custody disputes is covered. Under this statute, grandparents can seek visitation if the parents are unfit or have neglected the child. If the parent is deceased, or if there are issues between divorcing spouses, grandparents can seek visitation.
- This statute focuses on instances where the trial court is already involved in an ongoing custody dispute. Grandparents can get involved in the dispute to proclaim their visitation rights.
- This statute applies to instances where custody has already been determined, but a motion has been entered that shows circumstances have changed. The court will decide what type of custody or visitation is appropriate for grandparents in this circumstance.
- This statute applies to situations when a child has been adopted by a relative or stepparent and a substantial relationship has already been established between the grandparents and the child.
If you are a grandparent who is considering these options, you will need to pay attention to timing.
Is there an ongoing custody dispute? Has permanent custody already been determined? Is your grandchild being properly taken care of?
You may seek custody or visitation in these scenarios:
- A stepparent or other relative adoption is taking place.
- There is an active custody dispute between the child’s unmarried parents.
- A divorce or legal separation is taking place.
If possible, you should try to keep the lines of communication with your grandchild’s parents open. Even through a difficult separation, it is possible they will see the benefit of your relationship with your grandchild and will want to preserve that relationship. If you feel you must take legal action for the benefit of your grandchild, know your options under the statutes.