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Can grandparents gain child custody in North Carolina?

According to North Carolina law, third parties can indeed gain custody of children under specific circumstances, and grandparents are considered third parties. However, the process of filing for and gaining custody is not simple as parents have a constitutional right to hold on to their status as parents.

Additionally, the law has consistently imposed limits to how much outside parties can interfere with a child's parents and these limits extend to grandparents and other third parties. That being said, it is not impossible for a grandparent to seek custody and even win custody. The four different North Carolina statutes below can empower grandparents to seek child custody or visitation.

-- N. C. Statute 50-13.2(b1): During ongoing custody battles a grandparent can request visitation with his or her grandchildren-- N. C. Statute 50-13.5(j): If any change occurs requiring a review of previously decided child custody, a grandparent can step in and seek either visitation or custody-- N. C. Statute 50-13.2A: Biological grandparents who have an established relationship with the child can petition the court for continued visitation in cases where a stepparent or other relative is adopting the child-- N. C. Statute 50-13.1(a): Grandparents can seek custody in court as a third party in cases where the child's parents behave inconsistently with their status as parents

Even the Supreme Court now acknowledges that grandparents fill an important role in raising the nation's children. This could help pave the way for those who believe their grandchild's best interests will be met through a change of custody. Speaking with a family law attorney will help these caring grandparents find the resources they need to pursue custody or find other ways to help care for the children they love.

Source: Legal Aid of North Carolina, "Child Custody Issues and Grandparents’ Legal Rights," accessed June 01, 2015

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