Grandparents’ Rights

in North Carolina

Do Grandparents Have Rights in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the law acknowledges the significance of the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, but it’s not as comprehensive as in other places. Unlike some states, North Carolina doesn’t have laws that automatically give grandparents visitation rights. Instead, visitation decisions are made by the courts, focusing on what’s best for the child. Grandparents need to provide strong evidence to show that visitation is essential for the child’s welfare.

Can Grandparents Sue for Visitation?

When grandparents find themselves in the painful situation of being denied access to their grandchild due to custody disputes between the parents, they can pursue visitation rights through legal channels by initiating a Motion to Intervene. This legal step enables grandparents to present evidence of their close and meaningful relationship with their grandchild and their involvement in the ongoing custody proceedings. It’s crucial to act promptly as the motion must be filed in a timely manner. Once the court has issued a custody decision or if the matter has been resolved through other means, the opportunity to intervene in the lawsuit diminishes.


Following the filing of a motion to intervene and a hearing involving all concerned parties, the court will determine whether grandparents can participate as a third party in the lawsuit with the aim of securing visitation rights. Grandparents are advised to retain their own legal representation to advocate for their visitation rights and to avoid any appearance of conflict with either parent.

It’s essential to recognize that the criteria for grandparents to obtain visitation rights is stringent. In North Carolina, grandparents must demonstrate that the denial of visitation would significantly harm the child’s overall well-being, placing a substantial burden of proof on them to show that visitation is necessary and in the child’s best interest. The child’s best interest is always the priority. 

In cases where no lawsuit has been initiated, or if the family resides together without legal action, grandparents lack the means to intervene. In North Carolina, laws regarding grandparent visitation rights are relatively constrained, with courts typically prioritizing parental rights in decision-making concerning the child’s upbringing, including visitation.

How Much Visitation Can Grandparents Get in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the amount of visitation grandparents can get varies case by case. The courts prioritize what’s best for the child, and grandparents need to prove that spending time with them is in the child’s best interest. It’s usually harder for grandparents to get visitation if the parents don’t agree. There’s no set amount of visitation guaranteed by law, so it depends on the circumstances and what the court decides is fair and beneficial for the child.

Substantial Relationship

If grandparents are disconnected from both parents, it’s vital for them to provide evidence to the court showing their strong bond with their grandchild or grandchildren. They must demonstrate that without the court’s intervention and granting them their own time, they might never get to see their grandchild or grandchildren.

When conflicts arise between biological parents and legal action is taken, grandparents have a brief chance to pursue visitation rights and uphold a meaningful connection with their grandchild or grandchildren.

Visitation vs. Custody

In matters concerning grandparents’ rights, North Carolina courts have made a clear distinction between custody and visitation. According to the law, grandparents are entitled to intervene and request visitation only during an ongoing custody case. Once the parents have come to a custody agreement, or if the court has already made a decision on custody, grandparents typically lose the opportunity to seek visitation.

Let’s Work Together

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