Chattanooga Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer

All too often, disputes between parents and their children have adverse effects on the relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren. Parents may strictly limit or eliminate visitation between the two for various reasons. If you are in this situation, you may want to learn about your legal rights to see your grandchildren from a Chattanooga grandparents’ rights lawyer.

Although grandparents may receive visitation rights with their grandchildren under state law, visitation rights are not automatic and not issued in all cases. The law in Chattanooga is complicated and ever-changing. As a result, seeking the assistance of a family lawyer may be wise.

Defining the Scope of Grandparents’ Rights in Chattanooga

Under Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-306, grandparents are able to seek visitation rights in specific situations in which the custodial parents have eliminated or have severely reduced their visitation. These situations include:

  • The father or mother of the child is deceased
  • The parents of the child are divorced, separated, or never were married
  • The father or mother of the child has been missing for at least six months
  • A court in another state has ordered grandparent visitation

Other situations in which a court may consider a petition for visitation by grandparents include those in which children resided in the home of their grandparents for at least one year before a parent removed the children. As a grandparents’ rights attorney in Chattanooga may advise, this situation creates a rebuttable presumption denying visitation may result in irreparable harm to the children.

Furthermore, grandparents may seek visitation rights if they maintained a significant relationship for one year or more and a parent then severed or severely reduced the relationship. However, the actions of the parent must be for reasons other than abuse or danger of substantial harm to the children. Lack of contact with the grandparents also must be likely to pose significant emotional harm to the children.

Legal Standard for Ordering Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

A court considering a petition for grandparents’ visitation rights first must determine whether there is a danger of substantial harm to the children due to the parent curtailing visitation. Proof of danger of significant harm may include:

  • The children had such a meaningful existing relationship with their grandparents that cutting off that relationship would be severely and emotionally harmful to them
  • The grandparents functioned as the daily caregiver of the children and stopping that relationship could interrupt the children having their daily needs met, thus causing emotional or physical harm
  • The children had a significant existing relationship with the grandparents so that ceasing or severely reducing the relationship presents a danger of other direct and substantial harm

This code section further defines “significant existing relationship” as situations in which grandparents lived with or were full-time caretakers for the children for at least six months. A significant existing relationship also might exist if grandparents had frequent visitation with the children for at least one year.

A court must consider whether there is a significant existing relationship between grandparents and the children or whether the loss of the relationship would cause severe emotional harm from the perspective of a reasonable person. There also is a rebuttable presumption that ending the relationship would cause substantial damage to the children if they are the maternal grandparents and the mother of the children is deceased, or vice versa. As these standards are challenging to understand, individuals may wish to contact a grandparents’ rights lawyer in Chattanooga for more advice about their situations.

Call a Chattanooga Grandparents’ Rights Attorney Today

Although some grandparents seek and obtain rights to visitation with their grandchildren, not all grandparents qualify for these rights. For instance, if parents remain married and their fitness is not an issue, they generally have the right to deny visitation between their children and grandparents altogether. To determine if you are eligible to seek visitation rights, you strongly should consider talking to a Chattanooga grandparents’ rights lawyer.

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