Your children having a relationship with their grandparents should be a wonderful, happy reality that evokes close-knit family bonding. Unfortunately, not everyone with children feels this way about their children’s grandparents. Maybe your childhood wasn’t as rosy as your parents believe, and you feel that they engage in toxic behavior. Maybe your spouse’s parents try to undermine your parenting at every turn, and it creates problems between you and your children.
Whether your parents or your spouse’s parents are causing you concern, you may want to stop them from seeing your children. Grandparents’ rights in Tennessee typically lean more toward the parents’ preference, with the court considering what is in the best interests of the child.
Can a parent deny a grandparent visitation?
You have a right to raise your kids in the manner you believe is best for them. If you have concerns about protecting your children from the same physical or psychological harm that your parents inflicted upon you as a child (or as an adult), you are not legally obligated to allow your children to spend time with their grandparents. There is little that a grandparent can do to change this, and unless you come to a mutual agreement, the decision rests with you and your spouse.
However, there are exceptions this general right to parenting. If you are preparing for a divorce or will otherwise be a single parent in the future, you could open yourself up to being faced with a legal battle over grandparent visitation.
Can I get visitation rights to see my grandchild?
If you are a grandparent seeking visitation with your grandchildren, and you are consistently being denied the opportunity to have that relationship, you need to ask yourself the honest question: “Did I do or say something that led to this circumstance?” If you believe the separation is bad for your grandchild, or being done out of spite to harm you or your grandchild, you may be able to seek visitation.
Understand, however, that there are rules about this. In Tennessee, you must be a biological grandparent or married to a biological grandparent. You may also be entitled to visitation if your grandchildren were adopted.
Under the law, you can seek visitation (and potentially even custody) of your grandchildren if:
- Your minor grandchild’s father or mother is deceased.
- Your grandchild’s father or mother are divorced or legally separated, or were never married each other.
- Your grandchild’s father or mother has been missing for six months or longer.
- You have been awarded visitation rights by a court of another state.
- Your grandchild lived with you for at least 12 months before being removed by his or her parent or parents, resulting in irreparable harm to your grandchild.
- You held a significant relationship with your grandchild for at least 12 months prior to your relationship being terminated by the parent or parents for reasons other than abuse or possible danger of substantial harm to the child, and severing the relationship will likely cause your grandchild substantial emotional harm.
It can be difficult to be the parent who feels a need to protect your child or the grandparent who is being denied a relationship with your grandchildren out of nothing more than personal spite. The Nashville child custody attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC are here to help no matter your circumstances. Our professional and compassionate family law attorneys will listen and guide you through your available legal options. To reserve an in-person or video consultation in our office, call 615-454-9899, or fill out our contact form.
Karla C. Miller has devoted her entire career to the practice of family law in Tennessee. She attended Auburn University and Nashville School of Law, and upon graduation in 1996, she opened her own law firm and has been assisting families throughout Tennessee since then. Learn more about Karla C. Miller here.