A unique and precious bond often develops between grandparents and their grandchildren, but sometimes situations disrupt the grandparents’ ability to maintain the relationship. Death, divorce, or estrangement could lead to loss of contact between grandparents and their grandchildren.
The state of Tennessee allows grandparents to petition to visit their grandchildren in certain circumstances. A local family attorney could advise you whether taking legal action is an option in your case.
If you are not seeing your grandchildren as often as you would like, speak to a Red Bank grandparents’ rights lawyer. Even if legal action is not viable in your case, they could offer advice based on years of experience and refer you to resources that could help you re-establish your relationship with your grandchildren.
The law respects parents’ rights to raise their children as they see fit if they meet the children’s basic needs and do not endanger them. Sadly, if a parent decides they do not want their child to have a relationship with a grandparent, the grandparent has little recourse.
Situations like this often arise if a parent dies and the surviving parent has a poor relationship with their in-laws. Similarly, if a couple divorces, the primary residential parent might object to the children maintaining a relationship with their ex-spouse’s parents. Sometimes the grandparent has a strained relationship with their child, and the child restricts access to the grandchildren.
Unless the parent is unfit, the grandparents’ options are limited. However, family rifts harm everyone, and the grandparents often have the perspective and maturity to initiate reconciliation. An experienced Red Bank attorney could suggest family counseling and mediation services to help a family repair damaged relationships and perhaps re-establish contact between grandparents and their grandchildren.
The law allows some grandparents to bring a motion seeking contact with their grandchildren. Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-306 permits a grandparent to petition for visitation under the following circumstances:
If one of these circumstances does not apply, a capable Red Bank grandparents’ rights attorney could seek visitation based on the depth of the relationship that formerly existed between the grandparent and grandchild.
The grandparent could apply for visitation if they had a significant relationship with the child for at least 12 months before the parent began limiting access. They must prove that denying contact will cause the child actual and significant emotional harm. The only other grounds a grandparent could assert to gain visitation rights is if the grandparent provided a home for the child for a year or more before the parents removed him or her. In that case, a grandparent must demonstrate that denying a continuing relationship with them would cause the child irreparable harm.
Although courts recognize the value of the grandparent/grandchild relationship, their concern when addressing grandparent visitation issues is whether the absence of contact with a grandparent would harm the child. Courts will not overrule a fit parent’s decision to limit contact without proof it is harmful to the child.
Courts will evaluate several factors when determining whether a child will suffer harm from not seeing their grandparent. A judge will expect proof that the prior relationship with the grandparent was significant, meaning the child lived with the grandparent or the grandparent was the child’s caretaker. A judge could consider the relationship significant if the grandparent spent substantial time with the child for at least one year.
The court will consider the likelihood of the child experiencing emotional harm if they are deprived of their relationship with their grandparent. The judge will determine whether allowing visitation is in the child’s best interests, considering all the relevant circumstances, including the parent’s opinion and the child’s preferences. A skilled grandparents’ rights lawyer in Red Bank could help a grandparent persuade a judge that a continuing relationship supports a child’s best interests.
Losing your relationship with your grandchildren is heartbreaking for you and for them. Although courts generally honor parents’ decisions regarding who their child spends time with, they will hear a grandparent’s petition for visitation in certain circumstances.
Discuss your situation with a Red Bank grandparents’ rights lawyer and find out how you could re-establish your relationship with your grandchildren. Call today.