The bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren are special and unique. Grandparents have much to teach their grandchildren and often lend their life experience to helping the grandchildren grow and mature into bright and motivated people. Whenever parents decide to divorce, however, the relationship between the grandchildren and their grandparents often suffers as a result. A difficult custody battle can make this even more difficult and may even prevent the grandparents from seeing the grandchildren entirely.
Courts will often step in in cases where the grandparents wish to have access to the grandchildren, but laws in North Carolina that were passed in 2011 set the stage for grandparents to have stronger rights when it comes to seeing children following a divorce. While grandparents cannot sue for visitation rights if the grandchildren still live with both parents, they may be able to do so in the case of divorce (under very particular circumstances). The house bill HB-239 allows grandparents to legally file for visitation rights, and the court can determine if it is in the best interests of the grandchildren to allow the grandparents to have visitation rights. This is typically decided on a case-by-case basis and is usually decided if the grandparents and grandchildren request the ability to see each other, if the grandparents are physically and mentally fit to watch the children, and if the visitation rights do not violate the rights of the parents.
Ultimately a strong family bond is essential to a happy childhood, and having loving figures in their lives will undoubtedly benefit the children as they grow. Families need to consider the complete effects that a divorce or separation will have on their children, and some of the ancillary issues like the visitation rights of grandparents must be considered.
Divorce may be inevitable for some couples and the rising rates of divorce show that families no longer feel the need to “stick it out” when things are not working. Divorce does not necessarily have to be a bad thing, especially if the couple simply cannot make things work together. Children may eventually benefit from happy, separated parents, and as long as they are able to retain healthy relationships with all of their family members, they may continue to develop in a positive way.
A child custody lawyer can help parents and grandparents determine how visitation should work. The best interests of the child should always be the first thing on anyone’s mind, and it is always a good idea to discuss all of the options when it comes to sharing visitation. If the custody issues become contentious, an experienced family lawyer should be called in to explain your legal rights when it comes to custody for parents and grandparents alike. By calling a lawyer, you know that you will be given all of the information you need to make a wise decision on behalf of the child. Whether or not grandparents will be given more rights in future North Carolina legislation remains undecided at this time, but at least the state recognizes that grandparents should be considered.
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