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Franklin County family battling for custody of late daughter’s child

Franklin County family battling for custody of late daughter’s child




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FRANKLIN COUNTY, N.C. (WNCN) – A central North Carolina family said they have had their heart broken twice this year.

The Mills family is close-knit.

“We do everything together,” said Renee Mills.

But Renee said it seems like, these days, someone is always missing. Her daughter, Victoria Mills, died in a head-on crash on July 4. Two of her children were also in the car. 

“It was devastating,” she said.

Soon after the accident, social services got involved. Renee said the children‘s fathers were not involved, and because of that, she and her husband were awarded temporary custody.

Not long after, Renee said her granddaughter’s father took a paternity test, and decided he wanted custody

She said they were told the children “would not just be ripped away. That it would be a slow process; a gradual thing to get to know him.”

“He came in on a Friday, and visited Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Tuesday. I got a phone call on Sept. 4, and they told us he was taking her to Georgia that day,” Renee said. 

In North Carolina, CBS 17 found out there’s no set amount of time a biological parents must spend with a child before they’re able to take custody.

CBS 17’s Lauren Haviland reached out to the Department of Social Services in Franklin County to learn more about custodial rights. 

Director Nicki Perry responded with an email that reads in part: “…The issue that you are addressing could probably better be answered by an attorney as it relates to legal rights of parents.”

With no custodial rights as grandparents, the toddler moved out of state with her father.

“It was like losing our daughter all over again,” Renee said. “We just want visitation. We want to be able to see her. We want to be able to talk to her. She’s 3 years old. She’s been ripped away from everything she knows and put into a situation she doesn’t know anybody, anything, or her surroundings.”

Renee said she hasn’t spoken to her granddaughter since mid-September. 

CBS 17 reached out to the father in Georgia, but so far has not heard back. 

CBS 17 also wanted to know if Franklin County’s Department of Social Services or the State of North Carolina has been keeping up with the child since she left the state. Neither agency has offered a comment.