Many clients come to Parham Law Offices to ask what would seem to be a simple question: do grandparents have any right to visit their grandchildren in Tennessee? Not surprising, the answer is often a little more complicated that you might first thing.
In short, grandparents do have visitation rights in Tennessee, but only under certain specific circumstances that are specifically set out in the Tennessee Code. A grandparent may petition a court for specific visitation in the following instances where visitation is opposed by the parent(s):
1) Where the child is in foster care and grandparent visitation would be in the child's best interests.
2) Where the child's mother or father are unmarried and on of the parents are deceased.
3) Where the child's mother and father are divorced, separated, or were never married.
4) Where the child's mother or father have been missing for at least 6 months.
5) Where the child resided with the grandparent for at least twelve months prior and a parent has removed the child.
6) Where the child and the grandparent had a "significant ongoing relationship" for at least twelve months preceding the filing of the petition and severing the relationship is likely to cause the child "substantial emotional harm."
7) Where the court of another state has already ordered grandparent visitation.
In each of these situations, the Court must first determine whether denying grandparent visitation is likely to cause significant harm to the child. If that question is answered in the affirmative, then the Court must determine whether, and to what extend, grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the child. Like most family law matters, these cases are very fact specific and should always be evaluated by a competent family law attorney. Contact our office if you, or someone you know, is being denied grandparent visitation in Tennessee and needs assistance in protecting their rights.