There is little doubt that, as a grandparent, you play an important role in the lives of your grandchildren. Unfortunately, maintaining these relationships after a major life event -- such as divorce or the death of an adult child -- is often difficult. However, you are not without options.
Seeking visitation with your grandchild is possible, although you will have to meet certain conditions in North Carolina statutes. Like with many family law issues pertaining to minors, the court will ultimately consider whether your continued relationship is within the best interests of your grandchild.
How can I prove visitation is in their best interests?
The court will probably examine the child's needs very closely. Your grandchild's emotional well being, physical health, safety and welfare will all be up for examination. Their parents or surviving parent can usually voice their opinion on the matter and, if they are old enough, your grandchild can also give their own input.
It may also be helpful to demonstrate that you have an already-established relationship. You can you can use some of the following information to highlight the benefits of maintaining contact:
- Shared social experiences
- Joint recreational activities
- Overnight stays
What if my grandchild is in danger?
There is no time to delay if you suspect that your grandchild is being abused. Getting custody is just one option to remove them from an abusive environment, but it may be a popular one among grandparents. Not only does getting custody help protect your grandchild, but it can also give you the peace of mind that they are being well cared for.
Like with visitation, however, custody will also circle back to the best interests of the child. Even if you believe that staying with you is best, this decision is ultimately with the court.
Don't give up hope
If your relationship with your grandchild was compromised because of your child's divorce or unfortunate passing, you may feel as if there is nothing left for you to do. It can be especially disheartening if your grandchild's other parent has actively made it more difficult for you to interact with your grandchild.
Visitation -- and in some cases custody -- is essential for protecting the relationship you have spent years cultivating. Since North Carolina family law is not necessarily generous when it comes to respecting grandparents' rights, working under the careful guidance of an experienced attorney can give most people a better shot at securing their requested visitation.