The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can be mutually beneficial and a positive anchor in a child’s life after their parents’ divorce. However, dissolution of marriage can cause strain on relationships and a grandparent may find themselves at odds with their adult child and have difficulties receiving visitation rights to preserve their bond with a grandchild.
Under Tennessee law, the following individuals are considered grandparents:
- The child’s biological grandparent
- A biological grandparent’s spouse
- A parent of the child’s adoptive parent
If you are a legal grandparent, you may petition a court for visitation if the custodial parent does not want you to see your grandchild under specific circumstances. Working with an experienced family law attorney can make a difference in continuing your relationship with your grandchild, including understanding what your legal options are.
When Can a Grandparent Request Visitation Rights?
Although you may want to find ways to see your grandchild if their parents do not want to let you do so, legal avenues are limited to certain situations. Your first option should often be to try to talk to your adult child and mend your relationship with them if an argument is what caused your lack of access to your grandchild.
The “Grandparents Visitation Statute” in Tennessee law states that a court can review a grandparent’s petition for visitation rights if:
- A parent of an unmarried minor child is deceased
- A child’s parent has been missing for at least six months
- The child’s parents are unwed, divorced, or legally separated
- The child lived with the grandparent(s) for at least twelve months before a parent removed the child
If a court from another state previously issued an order granting grandparent visitation, the court where the child currently resides can review the case.
What Factors Does a Court Consider in Tennessee?
The judge’s primary focus when addressing legal matters about children is whether any decision is in the child’s best interests. One important thing they consider is whether the end of the relationship with the grandparent(s) would cause “substantial harm” to the child’s well-being. If a court determines that there is no harm if the grandparents do not see the grandchild, they can leave the decision up to the parents.
When assessing a grandparent’s petition for visitation rights, the court usually wants to establish that there was a preexisting relationship between grandparent and grandchild, and what its quality was.
A judge can also take into account the child’s preferences if the child is old enough, usually twelve years or older.
Why Work with a Family Law Attorney?
When it comes to family law matters, consulting a compassionate and reputable attorney can help you understand your rights and find an adequate solution to your situation. Visitation rights can be complex, and a lawyer can guide you through the process, whether it involves mediation or going to court.
Resolving this type of case outside of the courtroom can minimize stress levels for all parties involved, including your grandchildren. Yet an attorney will assist you both outside the courtroom and at a hearing if necessary. Their in-depth knowledge of the law, including any change that can affect grandparents’ rights, can increase your chances of preserving your relationship with your grandchild.
If you need a compassionate family law attorney in Chattanooga, contact Conner & Roberts, PLLC, today at (423) 299-4489 to schedule a consultation!