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What rights do grandparents have to visit their grandkids?

When relationships and marriages break up, there can be a lot of collateral damage done to the family relationships. One such relationship that can be shattered is the one between children and their grandparents.

Each state has its own provisions regarding visitation between grandparents and grandchildren. There is one common denominator, however. All statutes require the courts to consider what is in the best interests of the children before visitation or custody will be awarded to grandparents.

Some state courts ruled that laws that provide grandparents with visitation rights are in violation with either the state or federal constitutions. In Tennessee, the courts ruled that the prior statute governing grandparent visitation was unconstitutional. The legislature amended it to align with the state's constitution.

Under this revised statute, courts may grant grandparents visitation rights only if one of the following scenarios exists:

-- One or both of the child's parents are deceased;

-- The parents were never married to each other or are divorced;

-- Either of the parents have been missing for the six months preceding the pursuit of the visitation rights;

-- Courts in other states ordered that the grandparents have visitation;

-- The child lived previously with their grandparent for a year or more;

-- For at least a year, the child and the grandparents maintained a significant relationship.

Any one of the above events are grounds for the court to award visitation rights to the grandparents if the child could be substantially harmed if visitation is denied but in the child's best interests.

If you are a Tennessee grandparent who is seeking visitation rights, a family law attorney can steer you in the right direction.

Source: FindLaw, "Summaries of State Law: Grandparent Visitation and Custody," accessed Dec. 04, 2015

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