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Third Party Visitation: Do I Have the Right to Visit?

When parents divorce, it inevitably splits a family apart. But it also splits apart friend groups that used to spend time together. You may have a dear friend in your life who is not a family member, but they are as close as family. After the break-up, imagine that your friend's ex has custody of the kids. Your friend may have some visitation time, but you want vistiation rights too. Maybe your friend now likes to soak up what short amounts of time she has with the children on her own, and you haven't been able to see the children for months. Maybe you are an aunt or uncle from the non-custodial side of the family, and are craving time with the kids. What do you do?

Well, it depends on your state. Most states recognize that an unrelated third party does not have a natural right to visitation. Yet if there is a friend who feels strongly that he or she should be permitted to see the children, then you may have the right to seek visitation in court. In North Carolina, grandparents are considered a third party and have a right to visit the children even if the parents are divorced. Oftentimes, these are the opportunities where it would be best for aunts, uncles, or close friends to come and visit with the children as well. Most aunts, uncles, cousins etc. on the non-custodial side cannot obtain their own visitation rights with a child.

If you are a third party and feel that you are losing contact with precious children you love, try talking to the parents. If the parents see no problem with your spending time with the child, then you will have the right to do so. Yet if the custodial parent does not want you to visit with his or her children, then chances are that you may be out of luck. You can request a court hearing with a family lawyer to explain your special situation. Contact a family lawyer at Hopper, Hopper & Mulligan, PLLC if you want to seek visitation rights!

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