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Examining grandparents' rights in North Carolina

When couples in Charlotte choose to divorce, they often do so thinking that the impact of their decisions is felt only by themselves and their children. What they often fail to realize is that such a decision also affects their extended families, especially their parents who, as grandparents, have most likely developed strong relationships with their grandchildren. Many may think that during divorce proceedings, their wishes take a backseat to those of the divorcing couple. Yet as we’ll examine in this post, grandparents may also choose to involve themselves in divorce proceedings in order to protect their relationships with their grandchildren.

Grandparents’ rights differ from state-to-state. According to the American Grandparent Association, North Carolina has no statutes in place that determine what is in the best interest of children during divorce. This means that guidelines establishing grandparent visitation can be worked into a child custody agreement, provided that the grandparents are able to show that they share a significant relationship with their grandchildren, and that ending such a relationship could cause irreparable harm.

Going even further, in cases where the grandparents have been the primary caregivers of their grandchildren, they also have the legal right to continue to be part of the children’s lives. Those rights range from being involved in major decisions regarding the children’s upbringing such as where they’ll go to school or what religion they’ll belong to, to being granted actual custody of the children. In some cases, such rights are granted regardless of the wishes of the children’s parents. Again, as was stated earlier, the court has no requirement to follow a set statute in such cases.

For more information on grandparents’ rights during divorce, please visit our family law page.