Many grandparents call us because they want to have visitation with their grandchildren, but they are worried that they have no rights under Tennessee law. Often, we meet loving, caring grandparents that are not allowed to visit or talk with their grandchildren because the children's parents cut off all contact. Fortunately, Tennessee does grant some rights to grandparents that meet statutory requirements.
Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-306 establishes some grandparent visitation rights. When the following circumstances exist, the court must grant a hearing to determine whether a visitation schedule should be established:
• The parent that is the biological child of the grandparent is deceased;
• The child's parents are divorced, legally separated or were never married;
• The parent that is the biological child of the grandparent has been missing for at least six months;
• A court in another state has granted the grandparent visitation;
• The grandchild lived in the grandparent's home for one year or more; or
• The child and the grandparent had a significant relationship for at least one year before the relationship was severed (as long as the reason for severing the relationship was not related to abuse or a danger to the child).
When a court finds that these circumstances exist, a judge will first determine whether there is a presence of danger of substantial harm to the child or children in question. This could be emotional or other harm because the child and grandparent shared a significant relationship, or it could be harm caused because the grandparent acted as the child's primary caregiver. If you believe you might have a significant relationship under the statute, call our office today to set up a free consultation and find out if you have visitation rights in Tennessee.
Ultimately, once the court looks at the relationship and the risk of harm to the child or children involved, the judge will determine whether allowing visitation is in the best interest of the children.
If you are being denied visitation and phone calls with your grandchildren, our attorneys are familiar with and experienced in these types of cases. Contact Mary Frances Parker today to set up a free consultation.