Grandparents’ Rights in NC: Everything You Need to Know

Grandparents' Rights in NC

Many concerns about visitation rights come up with respect to the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Grandparents’ rights, visitation rights, and the amount of visitation are all hotly debated issues in NC. Let’s investigate these issues and clarify the grandparents’ rights to visitation in NC and Florida.

Grandparents’ Rights to Custody

Grandparents can still file for custody of their grandkids. According to North Carolina law, any “person, agency, organization, or institution” may also seek to adopt a minor child.

Based on what’s best for the child, the court will decide who might be the best candidate. In doing so, the court considers the data and facts submitted by the prospective adoptive parent or parents, paying particular attention to elements that suggest the child’s safety and security as well as that of their adoptive parents.
The state frequently turns to family members to provide suitable homes for children when parents are unable to care for them. Grandparents need to be aware of their rights regarding custody in such a case. Perhaps you could consider taking on a temporary role to assist your grandchildren, or perhaps a more long-term solution is required. A knowledgeable child custody lawyer in North Carolina can assist you in balancing your alternatives and making the best decision for your whole family.

In NC, Do Grandparents’ Have Visitation Rights?

Perhaps. But when it comes to deciding concerns about grandparents’ visitation, timing is crucial. Your right to even file a visitation claim may be forfeited if you put off taking action for too long.

Four statutes in the state of North Carolina enable grandparents to pursue a custody or visitation suit on behalf of their grandchild:

  • N.C. allows any individual, agency, organization, or establishment claiming custody of a minor child to file an action or initiate a custody proceeding. Gen. Stat. §50-13.1(a).
  • N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-13.2(b1) permits grandparents of young children to have visitation rights under a custody order, subject to court discretion. This subsection defines “grandparent” as a child’s biological grandparent adopted by a stepparent or relative, indicating a significant relationship between the grandparent and the child.
  • According to North Carolina General Statute §50-13.2A, “where a substantial relationship exists between the grandparent and the child, a biological grandparent may institute an action or proceeding for visitation rights with a child adopted by a stepparent or a relative of the child.”
    If both biological parents have terminated their parental rights and non-related adoptive parents have adopted the child, the biological grandparent of the adopted child will not be granted visitation rights. If a judge finds that visitation is in the child’s best interests, they may also grant visitation privileges.
  • According to N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-13.5(j), the court has the discretion to determine the custody or visitation rights of a minor child upon motion and demonstration of altered circumstances under G.S. 50-13.7.

Grandparents’ Rights in NC: Parental Visitation vs. Custody

Graham v. Jones, No. COA19-511 (N.C. Ct. App. April 7, 2020), is a court case that makes a distinction between grandparents’ visiting and custody rights in North Carolina. A child in custody lives with their grandparents for most of the day and has the power to make all their decisions. Grandparents can visit their grandchildren at designated times and locations. This is known as visitation.
Court rulings indicate that grandparents can only file for custody if they believe the parent is unsuitable or has behaved incongruously. In general, grandparents are not entitled to request visits. According to state statutes, grandparents may only request visitation in three distinct circumstances:

  • If visitation is allowed in connection with a current custody dispute (rather than in response to a separate visitation request.
  • If the child is adopted by a stepparent or relative and the biological grandparent remains in contact with the child.
  • The grandparents are involved in a custody dispute and claim a significant change in circumstances that affects the child’s wellbeing.

As you can see, grandparents do not always have the right to visitation or custody of their grandchildren. An examination of the Graham v. Jones facts demonstrates how restricted those rights are.

Are There Any Rights for Grandparents in North Carolina?

North Carolina acknowledges the importance of the grandparent-grandchild bond, but its statutes protecting grandparents’ rights are not as comprehensive as those in other jurisdictions. There are no laws in North Carolina that specifically give grandparents automatic visitation rights. Rather, the child’s best interests and welfare are taken into consideration when the courts make decisions about visitation. Also, for grandparents to prove that visiting is essential to the child’s well-being, they must provide strong evidence.

Grandparents’ Rights In Florida

Regretfully, grandparents’ rights in Florida are still difficult to get. Despite a recent amendment to the statute, strict requirements still need to be met for grandparents to have the opportunity to visit their grandchild.

The rights of grandparents in the State of Florida have altered as of July 1, 2015. If a parent had divorced, abandoned their child, or the child was born out of wedlock and the parents never got married, the grandparent would need to prove that they were unmarried before they could file for visitation rights. Even still, obtaining rights as grandparents was extremely difficult. The phrase should indicate that consideration is provided in exchange for mutual duty, indicating that each party agrees to fulfill specific duties or abide by the contract’s terms.

Florida Statute 752.011 offers hope to grandparents by allowing them to visit minor children. Is this shimmer, though, just a mirage? Is this legislation just another toothless legislative attempt to give grandparents some rights?

Grandparent visitation is permitted under the new statute, subject to the following restrictions:

One or both of the parents are missing, dead, or in a permanent vegetative state.


One parent is missing, in a vegetative state, or deceased 

The other parent has a criminal record or violent offense conviction that shows behavior that seriously jeopardizes the health or welfare of the minor kid.

Grandparents essentially have no entitlement to visitation if at least one parent is alive and is not a violent offender. There is currently no case law explaining this statute. It seems that the appellate courts have not yet heard any cases that satisfy this requirement.


What Civil Rights Do Grandparents Have?

While specific state laws may differ, generally speaking, grandparents may be eligible to request visitation rights in the following situations: Whether the parents are divorced or separated, suppose one or both of the parents died. suppose a divorce petition has been submitted.

Could My Kid Remain with Their Grandparents?

The following circumstances usually hinder a grandparent’s ability to get custody of their children because most courts favor having children reside with their parents: The parents of the child have passed away. The parents of the child have been found unsuitable to continue having custody. The parents of the child also agree to grandparent custody.

In South Carolina, Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?

The rights of grandparents in South Carolina are also derived from those of their offspring. This implies that, under normal circumstances, a grandparent can only see their grandchild during visitation.


In North Carolina, grandparents may also request visitation rights if it is best for the child. Grandparents can still request visitation through the court system, even though the laws are not as clear as they are in certain jurisdictions. In addition to building a strong relationship with the grandchild and demonstrating the benefits of visitation on the child’s wellbeing, grandparents must gather enough proof. Grandparents wishing to request visiting rights in North Carolina can find it very helpful to navigate the legal system and consult with a skilled family law attorney.

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