Grandparent Rights? Requesting Visitation with Your Grandchild

People often call our offices at Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A. asking about grandparent rights.  In North Carolina, grandparents do not have unlimited access to their grandchildren and there is no formal acknowledgement of grandparent rights.  For instance, if the mother and father of your grandchild are married and decide at some point that they do not want you or certain other  grandparents to spend time with or otherwise have access to a child, the grandparents are left with limited legal options to seek access to their grandchild. Absent a showing of unfitness or acts inconsistent with a parent’s constitutionally protected status where there is an intact family, grandparents have no avenue for access to their grandchild.  However, if the parents of a child are involved in ongoing litigation regarding the custody of the minor child or if the minor child is not in an intact family, grandparents have the ability to petition the court for visitation.  An intact family has been defined as one where the parents of the minor child and the child remain living together, where there is a single parent and the minor child living together after a separation, and where there is a surviving parent after the death of one of the parents and the minor child remains with the surviving parent.  If there is an intact family and no ongoing litigation concerning the custody of the minor child, then grandparents do not have standing to seek visitation.  There are some situations that a grandparent is not only seeking visitation with their grandchild but also custody.  The basis for seeking custody by a grandparent or other third party will be discussed in a later blog post.  If you have questions about grandparent visitation, contact our Board Certified Family Law Specialists at Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A. to discuss your case.