When a family member can no longer care for their child – a child you’ve grown to love – there are legal options available. As a relative to the child in need, you may be able to gain custody with the help of a skilled lawyer.
In North Carolina, parents typically have custodial rights of their children, whether they are married or living apart. The state assigns custodial rights to a child’s mother(s) or father(s) as long as it is in the best interest of the child to remain with them. However, sometimes a child cannot live with their parents. In this case, it’s important to learn relatives’ rights in child custody.
If you have questions about obtaining or maintaining custody of a child that is not yours, call a North Carolina family attorney from Breeden Law Office today at (919) 661-4970, or reach out online to schedule a case consultation.
North Carolina encourages parents to work out custody issues themselves. While both parents have equal rights, they still need to determine if they will each have physical and legal custody. Additionally, they need to figure out if one parent will have sole custody, or if both of them will share custody.
Sometimes parents are unable to make these decisions on their own, so the court intercedes. Certain factors that will be examined when determining custody for children include:
To retain custody, a parent must be able to do what is in the best interest of their child. If they cannot abide by these standards, another person may be able to petition the court for visitation or custody of their son or daughter, even if the third-party is not a natural or adoptive parent. This can be done under two circumstances:
If you have questions relatives’ rights in child custody, consider speaking to a North Carolina child custody lawyer today.
Essentially, any party who has an interest in a child’s well-being and fits the above two criteria can petition for visitation or custody rights in North Carolina. The child may have expressed an interest in living with you, as well. Typically, the courts will not make a decision based solely on a minor child’s wish to live with someone who is not their biological parent, but a judge will take their opinion into consideration.
While custody agreements are meant to be final, they can be modified. If you do bring about such a request, expect to provide the court with strong evidence as to why these orders should be changed.
The rights of aunts, uncles, siblings, and adult relatives all fall under the category of third-party custody. North Carolina courts would prefer to place a child with a family member, but the fact remains that they are only going to do so if they think the child’s best interests are being served by removing them from the custody of their natural parent or legal guardian.
When determining if another relative has the child’s best interests in mind and capable of proving for the child, the following may be considered:
In addition, some possible disqualifying factors for a relative seeking custody include past:
As a stepparent, you are not automatically awarded visitation or custody rights. If you divorce your spouse and that spouse is the natural parent of the child, they can elect not to allow you to see the child, thus shattering a bond you may have developed as a stepparent. A court will typically let you make an argument for visitation rights, but there is nothing set in stone. In order to receive custody rights as a stepparent, you will need to legally adopt the child while you are married to their other parent.
While North Carolina looks favorably on parents when it comes to custody of a child, it is important to remember that the state is concerned, first and foremost, with the child’s well-being. If you can prove to the court that you will better serve the child and allow them to thrive, you may be able to gain custody.
The best chance you have of obtaining custody of a child that is not yours is by hiring a skilled custody lawyer. Attorney Jonathan Breeden can help you understand how to prove that the child’s parents are unable to make safe choices or provide a stable living environment for their son or daughter. If you already have custody but another party has requested a modification of the custody order, Jonathan can help you fight to keep the child in your care.