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When parents in Wilmington choose to divorce, their lives (as well as those of their children) are not the only ones that are deeply impacted. The children’s grandparents can also feel the sting of separation knowing that access to their grandchildren could become restricted. The fear of that happening may even prompt some to seek legal action in order to keep seeing their grandkids. 

While most might think that parents would continue to want their children’s grandparents to be a part of their lives (even after divorce), circumstances often arise that may prompt one parent to limit that access. Section 50-13.2(b1) of North Carolina’s General Statutes shows that the law does indeed allow grandparents to petition for visitation rights. As is the case in any matter involving custody, however, such privileges are only granted if the court believes doing so is in the best interest of the children involved. 

How can a child’s best interests be determined? Currently, the state does not have guidelines that set a standard for that determination. However, legislation was introduced in 2015 whose goal was to do so (the bill is still under consideration). Per the North Carolina State Legislature, these proposed guidelines include: 

  • Grandparents encouraging kids to maintain close relationships with their parents
  • The willingness of kids to continue relationships with their grandparents
  • The reasonableness (or lack thereof) of parents to change their kids’ access to their grandparents
  • The mental and physical health of both grandparents and their grandchildren

Situations identified by this new legislation that may necessitate considering granting grandparent visitation include cases where the grandparents’ adult child (the kids’ parent) is deceased, incarcerated, or incapacitated due to a mental or physical disability.