As a grandparent, you want to preserve the precious relationship with your grandchildren, even when a relationship with his or her parents becomes contentious. In North Carolina, grandparents can seek legal visitation rights with their grandchildren under certain circumstances.

Read on for answers to frequently asked questions about the state’s guidelines for grandparent visitation.

When can grandparents seek legal visitation in North Carolina?

The court will only order legal visitation for grandparents when the child’s immediate family is not intact. This standard applies when:

  • The child’s parents have separated or divorced
  • A relative or stepparent has adopted the child
  • A custody dispute arises between parents who are not married

The court considers a child who lives with a single parent to have an intact family in the absence of a custody dispute. In the case of adoption, the grandparent must prove that he or she has an existing relationship with the child dating prior to the adoption.

Grandparents must also show that legal visitation with the child is in the child’s best interest. You and your attorney can provide evidence in court to establish that visitation would promote your grandchild’s welfare, health and safety

What legal rights can I request?

Grandparents can ask for the right to see and communicate with their grandchild. This includes both in-person visits as well as video calls, phone calls, text messages and emails. In certain cases, grandparents can seek custody of grandchildren. This option is available if you have concerns about the parents’ ability to provide safe housing, financial support and a healthy childhood, as well as in cases involving domestic violence, abuse or neglect.

You can request grandparent rights when a custody dispute is ongoing or after the court has ordered a custody arrangement. To get started, you must file a petition for visitation in the county district court where your grandchild resides. The court will schedule a hearing date at which you can present evidence to support your case for time with your grandchildren.