Grandparents filing for custody of my 2 girls- Help

I was in an abusive marriage for four years. I took out a DVPO on my husband, which has since long expired. DSS got involved because I kept going back to him, and told me that I was being negligent by subjecting my babies to such nonsense. I left my children in the temporary care of their grandparents while I sought help through a battered women’s shelter. It took me eight months to finally get on track. I have since bought a home with my fiance and have lived here for a year and a half. I’m a stay-at-home mother and a nursing student, and do work part-time on the weekends when my children visited their father. Everything was going well, except my husband was served with papers for failure to comply with his court order for child support, as they had been living with me since May 1 of 2010. I had asked him and his parents to watch my kids while I spent the last few days of my father’s life with him and then made funeral arrangements. I was gone a week. When I went to pick up the kids, I was slapped with a DVPO alledging that I had threatened to kill myself and my babies on 8/18/10, when my father passed. I had phone records proving I had not even spoken with my husband then. The case was dropped today in court, but I was slapped with another civil summons, this time the grandparents got temporary custody of my two daughters. They alledge that I am not working, can’t provide a stable home, and that I’m mentally depressed and unstable. They also alledge that I’m into bondage and have exposed my children to topless photos of me on my laptop (all of which are absurd). I have not been allowed to see my children in three weeks. I cannot afford the $5000 retainer to hire an attorney (they have one)- all I have is the truth on my side. I am supposed to compose an answer to this complaint, which I have no idea how to go about doing. Also, how do I stand up for myself? Does NC allow grandparents to take custody so easilly? Thanks for all your help- I’m so overwhelmed that I can hardly think straight!

Also, relevant (or not) information: I live in Northeastern NC. My daughters will be two years old and three years old in November. Also, my finace, who’s retired Navy, has a single conviction from nine years ago in the state of Virginia for unlawful videotaping. The girl was over the age of 21, he was immediately caught and cooperated fully with authorities, and served nine months of a two year sentence in city jail. He’s not reoffended on any level since, and went to counseling to get himself straight. (he’d just gotten out of an abusive relationship himself and is truly sorry for what he’s done.) The grandparents and my ex husband have known this from the beginning, and still agreed to let the kids come live with us. They haven’t called CPS ever because they never had a problem until child support sent my ex a notice, and since he’s on probation, that means jail time. I know that my fiance’s conviction looks bad- would that cost me custody of my girls?

Your answer is a document that will response to each allegation in the complaint and admit or deny each and every allegation. You may also counterclaim for attorney’s fees and seek that they be ordered to reimburse you for the same.

Your finance’s past may be considered in a custody determination, but there is no one factor that is determinative.