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Modifying Child Custody: Grandparents vs. Parents

We’ve all seen videos such as this one on the highly addictive TikTok app depicting parents dropping their kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house to achieve some much needed alone time. Ever since the Piedmont Triad began experiencing the monumental effects of COVID-19 in early March, both kids and parents alike are eager to experience a change of scenery from the all too familiar rooms of their own home. However, staying at home has become the new norm. It appears we will have ample time to become even more acquainted with our home offices as Guilford County Schools recently announced the 2020-2021 academic year will begin with remote learning through at least October 20, 2020. 


In reality, many grandparents throughout the Piedmont Triad have the responsibility of caring for their grandchildren. Whatever the circumstance, grandparents are often the next of kin available to care for children whose parents cannot properly tend to their best interests. Pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes Section 50-13.1, grandparents may institute an action or proceeding for custody of their minor grandchildren. In doing so, grandparents have the burden of proving (1) the parents of the minor children are unfit, and (2) it is in the best interests of the minor children to be placed in the care, custody, and control of the grandparents. When grandparents are granted custody of their minor grandchildren via a custody order entered by the court, such an order can change by filing a motion seeking modification of the child custody order.


Courts strive for the reunification of minor children and their parents. As a result, parents are encouraged to seek proper avenues to reverse the wrongdoings that resulted in the court granting custody of their minor children to the grandparents in the first place. When parents turn their lives around for the better, they may file a motion seeking to modify child custody to regain custody of their minor children. When filing a motion to modify child custody pursuant to North Carolina General Statute Section 50-13.7, parents must show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, which warrants a modification. Circumstances to modify should not be taken lightly and should be substantial.  For instance, parents who previously struggled with drug addiction but are now sober, who regularly attend support group meetings, and who have stable living conditions can undoubtedly show the court a substantial change in circumstances and file a motion to modify. A substantial change in circumstances can come in many forms and is not limited to the previous example.  There are countless ways in which parents can place themselves on the right path for becoming fit parents and meeting the needs that are in the best interests of their minor children.


No matter the circumstance, Woodruff Family Law Group is here to help. If you are a parent seeking to regain custody of your minor children from a grandparent, give us a call today to schedule an initial consultation!