Are North Carolina Laws Changing to Provide Grandparents’ Visitation Rights after Divorce?
Divorce should not sever the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. However, heated custody battles can cause this relationship to suffer. While the courts can currently intervene in certain situations, new legislation pertaining to grandparents’ rights in North Carolina was introduced in March 2011. If passed, it will provide greater rights to grandparents in the future.
Current North Carolina law does not permit grandparents to sue for visitation when children live with both parents. However, in the case of divorce, the courts can grant visitation rights to grandparents under specific circumstances. House Bill HB-239 would expand the circumstances under which grandparents can take legal action to obtain visitation rights. While the courts must still grant these rights on a case-by-case basis, they consider the best interests of the children based on many factors, including:
- The desire of grandparents and grandchildren to continue to build a relationship
- The physical and mental health of the grandparents and children
- The effect visitation may have on the right of a parent to exercise parental authority
Regardless of whether this or any bill is signed into law, the entire family needs to consider the best interests of the children. In most cases, parents need to learn to work together to provide the emotional support their children need. Those needs often extend to regular contact with loving grandparents. When all parties recognize that the true priority lies with the needs of the children, they can often negotiate an agreement on their own or with the help of an experienced mediator, regardless of the specific laws governing North Carolina grandparents’ rights.
The family law attorneys at Hatch, Little & Bunn, L.L.P. regularly help families navigate through the complexities of a legal process that involves a range of child visitation issues. Contact us to learn how we can help.