Grandparents filing for custody of my 2 girls- Help


#1

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. My fiance is retired Navy and a restaurant general manager, but has a misdemeanor conviction for unlawful videotaping in VA. The girl was of age, he cooperated fully, and has not reoffended- and this was eight years ago. The ex husband and his parents knew about this from the beginning. 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 finally broke down and begged my ex to allow me to talk to them on the phone, which the grandfather “allowed”. 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!