In North Carolina, in order for someone other than the parents of a child to receive custody, including grandparents, there must be evidence that the person or organization trying to gain custody has the best interest of the child in mind. The family law courts will use several factors to make this determination, including incidences of domestic violence, the child’s overall safety, and whether the persons requesting custody are capable of caring for the child.
Filing an order for custody
In order for grandparents to file a custody order in a family law court, they must submit written evidence of the reasons they want to obtain custody. If the birth or adoptive parents are filing a custody order, the courts will not automatically assume that one parent is more fit to raise the child than the other. The courts will consider joint custody no matter which parent requests it.
North Carolina does not necessarily recognize grandparents’ rights, but the courts will allow grandparents to file a custody order depending on the family’s situation.
Reasons grandparents may file for custody
Grandparents may petition the courts for custody of their grandchildren if one or both of the parents are mentally unstable. This instability could be due to drug abuse, alcoholism, or a mental illness. If the parents are unable to care for the child financially due to chronic health issues, grandparents may be able to request custody.
North Carolina courts will also consider grandparent custody if one or more parents has a job that requires extensive travel, such as being in the military. In these cases, the parents may have primary custody when the parent is deployed in another state or country.