Basic Rules of Grandparent Visitation and Why to Intervene
In North Carolina, grandparents do have some rights when it comes to custody and visitation with their grandchildren. However, there are select instances in which a grandparent can be made a party to a custody action involving their grandchildren. This is due to the fact that under the United States Constitution parents have constitutionally protected rights to parent their children. This right includes being able to prevent visitation with grandparents.
If there is a custody action pending between the biological parents of the children, a grandparent can file what is called a motion to intervene. In order for the court to grant this, the grandparent must show that visitation with the grandparent would be in the child’s best interest. If the court makes this finding, then the grandparent will be made a party to the action and awarded visitation with their grandchild.
If there is no custody action pending between the parents of the children, a grandparent can file for custody of their grandchild. As we talked about earlier, parents have constitutionally protected rights to parent their children. For a grandparent to be able to get custody of their grandchild without a custody action pending, the grandparent must show to the court that the parents of the children have acted outside of their constitutionally protected status as parents. For example, the parents of the children are incarcerated or neglecting and abusing the children. The court must make the findings that the parents have acted outside of their constitutionally protected status and that it would be in the best interest of the grandchildren for the grandparent to have custody.
As you may already be able to tell, although grandparents do have rights regarding their grandchildren, it is not always black and white. It is important to keep this in mind if one of your children is going through a custody battle over your grandkids and to seek an attorney so that your rights to visit your grandbabies are protected.
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