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What are grandparents' rights in North Carolina?

The issue of child custody often becomes the primary struggle between couples in Charlotte divorce cases. Yet if settling on an acceptable child custody agreement between two divorcing parents can be difficult, imagine how much more so it can be when grandparents become involved. Many grandparents become concerned that the end of the children’s marriages could potentially signal an end to relationships with their grandchildren. However, those grandparents who are concerned about this happening may be relieved to know that they too are granted some child custody rights during the divorce process.

North Carolina General Statute § 50-13.2.b1 allows for grandparents visitation time following a divorce. These visitation rights extend to one’s biological grandchildren, and to adopted grandchildren who are adopted by a stepparent or relative. In this case, the grandparent must prove that he or she has a significant relationship with the child. However, if the child is adopted by parents to whom he or she has no relation, grandparent visitation rights are not recognized.

In cases where grandparents fear that the environment in which their grandchildren are living is unsafe, they can seek to be awarded outright custody. To do so, there must be allegations of abuse or neglect against the children’s parents. On top of that, the grandparents must show that they have a “parent-like” relationship with the children. This includes being active participants in providing health and dental care to children, supplying them with food and clothing, and supporting their education.

While none of the information shared above is intended to be viewed as legal advice, it may prove useful for those grandparents looking to fully comprehend what their rights are in family court.