Custody Rights of Aunts, Uncles, and Siblings in North Carolina

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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.

What are a family’s rights for child custody in North Carolina?

Gaining Custody of a Child That Is Not Yours

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:

  • The relationship each parent shares with their child
  • The living situations of each parent
  • Whether a parent has an alcohol or substance abuse issue
  • If there is a history of domestic violence with a parent
  • Whether the parent is mentally fit
  • Where the child currently resides
  • Whether or not each parent can create a safe, stable living environment for their child

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:

  • You share a parent-like relationship with the child
  • You are related, either by blood or through adoption, to the child, and there are allegations of abuse or neglect against the parent

If you have questions relatives’ rights in child custody, consider speaking to a North Carolina child custody lawyer today.

Third Party Custody Agreements

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.

What Are the Custody Rights of Aunts Uncle’s & Siblings in NC?

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:

  • Ability to financially support the child;
  • Relationship with the Child;
  • Ability to provide quality education
  • Ability to provide child care;
  • Stability of the Environment;
  • Physical and psychological fitness;
  • Past or future military deployment.

In addition, some possible disqualifying factors for a relative seeking custody include past:

  • Domestic Violence;
  • Sexual abuse or physical abuse;
  • Illegal drug use;
  • Alcoholism;
  • Felony Convictions;

Stepparents’ Rights

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.

How a Custody Lawyer Can Help

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.

Contact Breeden Law Office Today

To schedule a consultation regarding your case and to learn more about relatives’ rights in child custody, contact Breeden Law Office today at (919) 661-4970.

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