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What rights do grandparents have when their children divorce?

You love your children and want them to have happy lives. You also love your grandchildren and want to have a positive, ongoing relationship with each of them. Unfortunately, your child's behavior during a divorce could result in issues with maintaining your relationship with your grandchildren.

Typically, the courts in North Carolina seek to arrange custody with the best interests of the child in mind. Generally that means ensuring continued, healthy interactions with both parents. In some cases, such as estrangement, abuse or chemical dependence, however, the courts will choose to terminate or temporarily suspend a parent's rights to custody or visitation. When that happens to your child, you could find yourself unable to see or even speak with your grandchildren.

The custodial parent, your former son or daughter in law, may worry that you'll allow contact against court orders. He or she may also be worried about what could get said about the divorce or custody battle. Knowing that it isn't personal won't do much to ease the sting of missing your grandchild, however.

What rights do grandparents have in North Carolina?

When parents divorce in North Carolina, grandparents and even aunts and uncles are also impacted. These loving family members can end up cut out of the life of the little people they adore. Typically, the way courts anticipate visitation for grandparents is that it is connected to time when the children are in custody of the related parent.

If you are the paternal grandparents, that means you can see the kids when they are with your son. If your son does not have rights to visit or refuses to meet up with you, it can be difficult to gain access to your grandchildren.

In cases where you've had a substantial relationship, such as your grandchildren living with you for some time, the courts may decide that visitation is in everyone's best interest. If you have been the primary care provider or have lived with your grandchildren for an extended period of time, you could have a claim to visitation. If that doesn't fit your situation, you may need to get creative.

Consider offering your services as pro-bono childcare for the custodial parent. That way, he or she can attend to chores or social needs while knowing the children are safely with family members. You get to spend time with your grandchildren. This can be a positive arrangement for everyone involved.

Virtual visitation could be an option

If the custodial parent lives far away or simply doesn't feel safe visiting physically, you could potentially arrange virtual visitation. Talking with your grandchildren via Skype or Facetime isn't the same as holding them, but at least it allows for a positive, ongoing relationship.

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