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Do grandparents have visitation rights in North Carolina?

North Carolina is one of a few states that protects the rights of grandparents to visit their grandchildren in specific instances. The state does not have laws or provisions that specifically address grandparents, but they are included in custody and visitation laws. One such mention of grandparents' rights states that the courts have the right to order visitation between a child and grandparent at its discretion.

There is one problem with this law. Presently, grandparents need to seek an order during the grandchild's current custody case. The grandparent can't seek custody or visitation independently in most situations. As a result, grandparents who want continued contact need to take initiative during the custody case, even if they're not likely to lose the right to visitation.That way, there's no risk of having no contact with your grandchild in the future purely due to your child or child's ex-husband or wife deciding not to allow you to do so.

North Carolina also has a broad intact family definition that you should know about. If a family is not intact, it's easier for a grandparent to win custody. The problem is that even a single-parent household is considered to be intact in North Carolina. Unless there is another issue, like a mother who leaves her child alone or two parents who have passed away, it's hard to prove that grandparents need legal custody or visitation rights. Fortunately, if a grandparent has a substantial relationship with the child, he or she can try to get a visitation order during the child's custody case.

If you are looking to protect your right to visitation, remember to take steps early. You only have a limited time to ask for a judgment in which you retain visitation rights.

Source: The Spruce, "North Carolina Grandparents' Rights," Susan Adcox, accessed Dec. 28, 2017

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