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Here Is What You Need to Know about Third-Party Custody in NC

| Apr 4, 2024 | Child Custody

If you’re a grandparent or other family member in North Carolina trying to gain third-party custody of a child, you probably have many questions.

• How will the court determine whether an order of custody is necessary?

• If the biological parent has lost custody, can they still make visitation decisions for the child?

• Can I get my grandchild back in my life?

Here’s what you need to know about custody for grandparents in NC, transferring custody, and more.

What Is Third-Party Custody?

Third-party custody is when a non-parent, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or any other person, has custody of a child. In North Carolina, third-party custodial agreements are uncommon because biological or adoptive parents have superior constitutional rights over third parties as a matter of law.

When Does the Court Grant Custody to Grandparents or Other Third Parties?

In North Carolina, there is a parental preference for natural or adoptive parents to have custody of their child. This means that, in most situations, a parent will be entitled to the exclusive care, custody, and control of their children. However, when a parent is unfit or has otherwise acted inconsistent with their constitutional rights, the court has the authority to award custody consistent with the best interest of the child.

The Criteria Courts Follow to Determine Custody Rights for Grandparents

Under current law, the non-parent must allege and show facts sufficient to prove that the parent is unfit or neglecting their child’s welfare in order to obtain custody.

The first requirement for third-party custody in NC is proving a relationship between you and your grandchild. So, a judge will want evidence that you have had regular contact with the child before filing for custody.

Do you need an NC attorney who can answer your questions about visitation for grandparents?

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Visitation Rights for Grandparents and Other Third Parties

North Carolina law does not provide visitation to third parties in most situations. However, a grandparent or other third party can seek visitation when there is a child custody case between the parents. In these situations, the third party must file a motion to intervene in the custody action and assert their claim for visitation. A grandparent or other third party seeking visitation must prove that the visitation is in the best interest of the child.

Can Grandparents Sue for Visitation?

In North Carolina, grandparents can sue for visitation with their grandchildren in certain limited situations. The court will consider several factors to determine whether or not to grant grandparent visitation rights. Some of the factors that the court will consider include the following:

● The age of the child

● The strength of your relationship with the child/children

● The wishes of the child

● The custody schedule between the parents

How Much Visitation Can Grandparents Get?

The amount of visitation time you receive will depend on the specific situation and your relationship with the child. However, the Court must consider the constitutional rights of the parents in awarding visitation to a third party. An award of visitation to grandparents can include visitation on holidays, during the summer, and on other special occasions such as birthdays.

Do Aunts and Uncles Have Visitation Rights?

Aunts and uncles are also considered third parties under North Carolina law and, by default, have no legal right to visitation with their nieces or nephews. However, they can ask the court for permission to visit with a child in the same manner as a grandparent.

Spidell Family Law Can Answer Your Questions About Third-Party Custody and Visitation for Grandparents

No matter where you are in the custody or visitation process, Spidell Family Law is here to help. Call us if you have any questions. Our compassionate team of professionals is ready to help you navigate what’s next for your family.

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