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Seeking what's best for your grandchildren

You probably remember quite well the day you became a grandparent. Perhaps, years have gone by since then, with many new and cherished memories established. Life can involve drastic turns, and, unfortunately, some grandparents in North Carolina have gone from rejoicing at the births of their grandchildren, to fighting for their best interests.

If you're facing challenges regarding a similar situation, it may be helpful to seek clarification of the laws that govern such matters before taking any formal action.

Grandparents have no constitutional rights

While federal legislation may affect your rights as a grandparent, state laws typically determine grandparent rights. The following facts pertain to this issue:

  • Grandparents' rights are not constitutional in nature but are various state legislatures recognize these rights.
  • It is only within the past three decades that states have recognized such rights.
  • In 1998, a federal law was passed requiring each state to recognize grandparent visitation court orders from any other state.

If you have determined a need to seek custody of your grandchildren, or are facing problems regarding an existing court order and a parent's refusal to cooperate, keeping the above data in mind may help you make informed decisions.

What factors does the court consider regarding custody and visitation issues?

It's understandable that you want to spend time with your grandchildren even if your son or daughter is no longer married to the other parent. If that person is trying to keep you from being able to see your grandkids, you may feel the need to seek outside intervention to solve the problem.

When granting legal visitation or custody rights to grandparents, the state typically considers the following of paramount importance:

  • The parents' marital status: Some states only consider this a crucial factor if a parent or guardian is not allowing you to visit your grandchildren.
  • Whether one of the parents is deceased: Some states will only grant visitation if you are the parent of the children's deceased parent.
  • Your grandchildren have been adopted: If another grandparent or parent through a new marriage has adopted your grandchildren, it may directly affect your situation.
  • Evidence of abuse: To keep children safe and act in their best interests, the court will carefully examine any evidence of child abuse before determining whether it may be appropriate to award you custody of your grandchildren.

These are not the only determining factors the court may consider when making decisions about child custody or visitation in connection with your relationships as grandparents. However, most judges see these as key issues when ruling on such matters.

Where to turn for help when problems appear impossible to resolve

When you think of your grandchildren, you may have images of taking walks in the park, baking cookies, reading stories or simply spending time enjoying the company of one another. If you believe your grandchildren are in a situation that is detrimental to their well-being, or, you are not allowed to see them, it may be time to seek outside support to address the problem in court.

Although a judicial presumption typically favors parents over grandparents where custody of children is concerned, if evidence exists that extenuating circumstances have rendered one or both parents unfit, or you simply want permission to visit from time to time, you can act alongside experienced guidance to aggressively pursue an outcome that protects your grandchildrens' best interests and allows you to help them move forward toward a healthy and happy future.

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The Law Office of L. Bryan Smith, P.C.
3965 Market Street
Wilmington, NC 28403

Toll Free: 877-231-9829
Phone: 910-338-5559
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