When spouses split, there is often ill will between families, extending beyond the immediate parties. Divorces frequently involve disputes over money, assets, debts, and custody of the children, which can become heated and cause family members to take sides with their respective family member.
Generally speaking, in order to have standing to file for custody of a child in North Carolina, one must be a biological parent, or be acting as a biological parent to the child. This standard allows for third-parties who have been acting in loco parentis, or in the place of a parent, to file seeking custody of a child. (See our page on Third Party Custody.) However, North Carolina also affords biological grandparents the ability to file for custody without the requirement that the child and grandparent have a “parent-child relationship,” as typically required for third parties, and instead requires only a “substantial relationship” exist between the grandparent and child.
North Carolina General Statutes § 50-13.2(b1), says “An order for custody of a minor child may provide visitation rights for any grandparent of the child as the court, in its discretion, deems appropriate.” In order for a grandparent to attain visitation rights with a child, they must intervene in an open custody action between the biological parents of the child. When such a complaint is filed, both biological parents must be served and included in the litigation.
If you are interested in pursuing a claim for grandparent visitation, contact one of our experienced family law attorneys for a consultation.