What Circumstances Allow for Visitation Rights as a Grandparent?

Anyone who has a good relationship with their grandparents can tell you the positive impact these extended family members have had on their lives. While grandparents do not have automatic parental rights to their grandchildren, Tennessee protects their rights to visitation in certain situations.

Single Parents and Changes to the Family

If the parents of a child never married, or one parent is absent from the child’s life for over 6 months, grandparents may be able to step in and help raise their grandchildren. When this is the situation and one or both of the parents abruptly cut off visitation, grandparents can file a petition for legal visitation.

Similarly, grandparents might be involved with a child while the child’s parents are going through a divorce or legal separation. If the custodial parent or a new stepparent denies visitation, grandparents may be able to assert that continued time with the child is in that child’s best interests.

Essentially, if a child has a significant relationship with their grandparents, especially one that has lasted at least a year, and one or both parents end that relationship for reasons other than abuse or danger to the child, grandparents can seek visitation rights in court.

Death of One or Both Parents

When a child is orphaned, grandparents may wish to maintain contact with, or even take over custody, of their grandchild. In this situation, they can pursue their familial rights in court.

If one parent dies, however, the surviving parent will have custodial rights to their child and can decide who their child spends time with. Only when both parents are unable or unfit to take care of their child can grandparents obtain custody.

Once again, if the child has a preestablished and meaningful relationship with their grandparents, and eliminating this relationship will cause severe emotional harm, grandparents can request court-ordered visitation.

Grandparents As Primary Caregivers

If a grandparent has been acting as a child’s primary caregiver for at least 6 months, or if the child was living in their grandparents’ home for at least 12 months, the grandparent(s) in question will likely have visitation rights.

Removing a child from their grandparents’ home and severing contact, or interrupting the child’s relationship with their primary caregiver, will lead to severe emotional losses for the child.

As such, many courts will protect a grandparent’s rights to visitation under these circumstances.

Abuse or Neglect

Unfortunately, not all biological parents are fit to raise their children. If a child is being abused or neglected by their parents, grandparents can appeal for visitation or custody.

Protect the Best Interests of Your Grandchild

If you are a grandparent and any of the situations above apply to you, Darnell & Darnell can help you pursue your rights to visitation and/or custody. Our attorneys understand how death and divorce can impact a child and want to help you mitigate the negative effects the situations can have on your grandchild(ren).

Collectively, we have been handling grandparents’ rights and other family law issues for over 90 years. You can trust our firm to address your case with the utmost care and pursue a solution that benefits your entire family.

To get started, call us at (931) 240-2752 and schedule a case review at our Clarksville office.