What Legal Rights Do Grandparents Have Under Tennessee Law?
One of the greatest bonds within a family is often the one between a grandparent and their grandchild. In many instances, a grandfather or grandmother has close ties to that of their grandchild that come second only to those shared with the child’s parents.
However, family conflicts often may challenge a grandparent’s ability to maintain a close bond with their grandchild. Disagreements between one or both parents may result in a grandparent being denied contact with the child. Tennessee laws affirm that parents have a constitutional right to raise their children as they see fit as long as the child does not suffer any harm or abuse.
Nevertheless, Tennessee does have laws such as the Grandparents’ Visitation Statute that assist grandparents in taking legal action to request access to their grandchildren.
If you are a grandparent who needs legal advice or assistance in being able to visit with your grandchildren, contact our law office and ask to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your legal options.
Who is Considered a Grandparent in Tennessee?
For an individual to try and take action to request rights to see their grandchildren, they must meet state legal criteria as to who is considered a legal grandparent. Individuals who are considered to be grandparents include:
- The child’s biological grandparents
- The spouse of a biological grandparent.
- A parent of the child’s adoptive parent.
Furthermore, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents also are afforded the same legal status as grandparents under the eyes of the law. Contrary to what some may believe, a grandparent’s age is not just cause for the court to reject their petition when requesting visitation privileges.
In some instances, individuals have acted for a considerable amount of time in the role of a grandparent to a child but have no legal standing with the court. Regardless, Tennessee has strict laws regarding who is considered a legal grandparent and has the right to file a petition for visitation.
When Can a Grandparent Petition the Court For Rights to See Their Grandchildren?
Although many grandparents who have been denied access to their grandchildren wish to petition the court for visitation rights, there are only specific circumstances that allow them to do so, which may include one of the following situations:
- The child’s parent is deceased.
- The child’s parent has been missing for at least 6 months.
- The child’s parents have never been married or are divorced or separated.
- The child was under the care of the grandparent(s) for at least 12 months before being removed by the parent(s).
- A court in another state has previously granted grandparent visitation rights.
- The grandparent can demonstrate that they and the child have maintained a significant bond for at least 12 months.
Additionally, it must also be proven that the child will likely suffer emotional harm if the relationship is not allowed to continue through court-ordered visitation. To prove the child will suffer emotional harm, the grandparent must prove they were the child’s primary caregiver for at least 6 months.
One of the most emotionally challenging aspects of a grandparent petitioning for visitation rights is the fact they will have to go to court against their child, son, or daughter-in-law.
However, our legal team understands that taking legal action against your family member can be upsetting. For this reason, our grandparents’ rights attorneys can act as your legal advocate to help you navigate the complex legal process.
When Should a Grandparent Consider Adopting a Grandchild?
Often, grandparents who are seeking visitation with their grandchild realize the child’s health and safety are at risk. In other extreme cases, grandparents who have obtained visitation rights may be forced to consider adopting their grandchild to ensure their safety and well-being. In most instances, grandparents consider adopting a grandchild after dealing with the years of the child’s parents suffering from substance abuse or mental health issues.
However, adoption is a huge undertaking and potentially puts you at risk of having to go against your family. It should be understood that for a grandparent to adopt their grandchild, the child’s parent’s parental rights must be terminated.
Adopting a grandchild can be complicated and requires the help of an attorney with extensive experience. If you are seeking visitation with your grandchild but have reason to believe more proactive steps need to be taken to protect their future, you will need the help of a knowledgeable attorney.
Our law office has attorneys with a proven record of obtaining results in a child’s best interests. Contact our office and ask to schedule a meeting with a member of our legal team who can evaluate your case.
What Kind of Results Can I Expect From Your Law Firm?
Our legal team recognizes that not being allowed to visit or have contact with your grandchild can be one of the most devastating events you can experience. However, Tennessee has laws protecting grandparents’ rights and their ability to maintain relationships with their grandchildren.
If you have been denied access to your grandchildren, the first step is to contact our law firm for help. A qualified legal team member will gladly sit down with you to answer your questions and address your concerns.
After carefully reviewing your case, we can determine what legal strategies may be available and the best way to proceed. However, grandparents should be aware that the law is stringent regarding who may petition for grandparents’ rights and the circumstances needed to qualify to proceed with legal action.
If you are a grandparent and want more information about your legal rights, you must immediately consult with one of our experienced grandparents’ rights lawyers. Contact Garner Law Firm, PLLC of Sumner County at our Hendersonville, TN, at 615-502-4336 and ask to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters.