Can Both Parents Lose Custody in a North Carolina Divorce

In most child custody cases, judges have to decide whether the mother or the father receives custody. But what happens if both parents are equally inept? What happens when, after reviewing the evidence, a judge decides that neither parent should receive custody. Obviously, this makes an already traumatic situation even worse for the child, but sometimes it is genuinely in the child’s best interest to leave their parents entirely.

Why Might Both Parents Lose Custody?

In a heated child custody battle, both parents might level all kinds of accusations against each other. One parent might accuse their former spouse of child abuse, while the other might hurl back allegations of serious substance abuse. So, what happens if both of these accusations are legitimate? What happens if the parents succeed in incriminating each other, presenting evidence that is equally condemning?

In this situation, a judge might be left with no choice but to strip both parents of custody. Remember, a judge in North Carolina always attempts to act in the child’s best interests when it comes to decisions on child custody. The state of North Carolina is of the opinion that a child should be kept with their parents whenever possible. But when there is clear evidence that the child is being harmed by both parents, it becomes impossible to leave them in this dangerous situation. In the end, a judge may decide that it is in the child’s best interests to stay with neither parent.

Who Gets Custody?

If neither parent maintains custody of the child, then who will act as their guardian? While going into foster care is always an option, judges may consider the possibility of choosing a grandparent instead. In many situations, these grandparents might be the only people in the extended family who actually care about the well-being of the children. In addition, it is much more likely for an individual with a biological relationship to a child to be granted guardianship.

When Can a Grandparent Get Custody?

First of all, there must be allegations of serious abuse and neglect against the child’s biological parents before a grandparent is considered as a new guardian. Evidence of abuse and neglect can emerge at any time, but condemning details are more likely to become clear during a divorce, as this is when the court closely examines the marriage and family life.

In addition, the grandparent must successfully show that they already have a “parent-like” relationship with the child. This means they must be currently helping to raise the child in a number of ways. For example, they might be taking the child to school. Perhaps they are playing a close role in their education by teaching them about the world, their heritage, and providing them with life skills like hunting or fishing.

A grandparent may also have a “parent-like” relationship with the child if they contribute financially to the child’s well-being. For example, they might pay for basic necessities like food and clothes. Other general signs of a parent-like relationship include giving the child rides to medical appointments, learning about their hobbies and interests, and simply spending a significant amount of time with them.

Grandparents and Visitation

Even if grandparents are unsuccessful in their effort to take custody of the children, they can still be granted visitation rights. Just like a parent who is granted visitation rights, a grandparent can be guaranteed an opportunity to spend time with the children on a regular basis. This can be a good compromise for grandparents who are concerned about the well-being of the children, and it allows them to keep an eye on the young ones. Further evidence of neglect and abuse can be collected, and this can lead to the parents losing custody in the future.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you are dealing with matters related to child custody, guardianship, or divorce, it makes sense to get in touch with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. These legal professionals can help you get through this difficult time, whether you are a grandparent or a parent. Acting in the child’s best interests is always the top priority when it comes to custody, and judges will often understand how to address the situation in the best possible way. That being said, you still need an attorney in order to make your case and show that you are the best guardian available. Reach out to Arnold & Smith, PLLC at your earliest convenience, and we can work together to do what is right for the child.