In many states, there is little grandparents can do to make sure they stay in their grandchildren's lives. However, it is important for extended family members to still have relationships with children and grandchildren when those relationships are positive.
Despite the fact that grandchildren may miss their grandparents, and vice versa, it is ultimately up to the parents of the children to decide if that relationship is necessary or beneficial for their children. There are exceptions, but on the whole, North Carolina's laws are not grandparent-friendly when it comes to visitation and custody.
Can grandparents get visitation rights in North Carolina?
The court does have the right to create an order of custody between a grandparent and their grandchildren when the court deems that custody important. However, this cannot be filed as an independent action and can only be sought during custody proceedings. Since that's the case, you may wish to seek visitation during your child's divorce to make sure you have the chance to seek time with your grandchildren, even if it is not something you think will be a problem in the future.
If you do not join the first custody case, then you won't have any recourse if you later are not allowed to see your grandchildren. Even though it is a little bit of a hassle, it's better to protect yourself while you can.
What is an intact family?
In North Carolina, it's hard for grandparents to get custody when their grandchildren are in an intact family. Single-parent families can also be intact, which means that they can't seek custody just because of one parent raising the children alone.
However, there is a chance that you could seek virtual visitation, even if your grandchild lives nearby. North Carolina recognizes virtual visitation. Since your grandchild wouldn't be leaving the family home, there is usually a better chance of obtaining visitation via phone calls or computer connections. This is something to consider, especially if you find it hard to meet your grandchild in person.
Overall, grandparents have few choices when it comes to visitation and custody rights, but if you do what you can to establish your rights early on, you may have a better chance of keeping in touch with your grandchildren in the future. It is wise to do all you can to maintain the relationship you have with your grandchildren, so you have evidence of your positive relationship.