Establishing Grandparents’ Rights

In the event of a divorce, grandparents may fear losing the relationships they’ve developed with their grandchildren. To help with this, the court recognizes a number of viable reasons to grant grandparents visitation rights. However, the process can be long and complicated. Our firm tells you what you need-to-know about establishing grandparents’ rights.

Qualifying for Visitation

Under Tennessee law, the child’s parent or guardian maintains the right to make decisions for the child. These decisions must be made in the child’s best interests, and typically include designating who can visit the child. Reasons the court might grant grandparent visitation include:

  • Parents were never married, or are now divorced or separated
  • One parent is deceased
  • One parent has been missing for more than 6 months
  • Child previously lived with the grandparents
  • Child has a significant bond with their grandparents

Proof of Necessity

In addition to meeting one of the above qualifications, the grandparents must prove that lack of visitation would somehow harm the child. In such cases, “harm” is classified as:

  • Emotional harm from the loss of a significant relationship with their grandparents
  • Emotional loss from not seeing a grandparent who served as a primary caregiver
  • Physical or psychological harm the child poses to themselves as a result of the loss of relationship with their grandparents

If grandparents can show the reasoning and need behind their visitation request, the court will always act in the best interest of the child. Before granting the grandparents’ request for visitation, the court must verify that visitation will not negatively affect the current parent-child relationship.

Opposing Grandparent Visitation - Troxel v. Granville

When aiming to establish visitation rights as a grandparent, it is important to understand the extent of your rights. In the case of Troxel v. Granville in 2000, grandparents were requesting multiple weekends a month with their deceased son’s children. The mother allowed for visitation, but did not agree to overnight stays, and limited the visitation to one weekend per month.

Eventually, the Supreme Court heard the case. The judges ruled that, because the mother allowed for some visitation, the mother was within her constitutional right to limit visitation. They determined that a parent’s decision regarding visitation holds “special weight." However, the court also validated the grandparents’ reasoning to seek visitation.

With this background in mind, it is important to lay out your specific desires regarding the visitation. How often do you plan on visiting the child? Will you have access to the child at school? Does the parent need to be present during your visitation, or will you be allowed to spend time alone with the child? There are many important questions to answer when presenting your case for visitation. An experienced attorney can help you create a solid proposal and help advocate for your rights as a grandparent.

Contact Our Family Lawyer for to Protect Your Rights as a Grandparents

At The Clarke Law Firm, we understand the importance of maintaining a relationship with your grandchild. That is why our Murfreesboro family law attorney, David Clarke, makes a strong case for your visitation rights. Attorney Clarke is a “Top 100” Trial Lawyer, as established by the National Trial Lawyers, and is knowledgeable in a variety of family law cases. He has the knowledge and tenacity to represent you in court and will fight for your grandparents’ rights.

No child should be deprived of a relationship with their grandparents. Contact our Murfreesboro family lawyer today to discuss your grandparents’ rights case: (615) 645-1501.

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