The bond between grandparents and grandchildren can be strong and enduring. It's one that is well worth being protected when a family is torn asunder by contention and acrimony.
If you are a Tennessee grandparent who is being kept from seeing and interacting with your grandparents, it's understandable that you are quite upset at this unfortunate turn of events. Whether the rift involves your son or daughter or the grandchildren's other parent, you worry that it might not be mended during your grandchildren's childhoods.
You may have legal options
Here in Tennessee, grandparents have limited rights to visitation with their grandchildren. These rights do not supercede the parents' rights but are additional rights that the grandparents have under the specific circumstances listed below:
- Grandparent visitation was awarded by a family law court in another state
- The grandchildren's parents were unmarried or have gotten divorced
- One of the grandchildren's parents has died
- Either parent has been absent for the period of six months prior to the grandparent seeking visitation
- In the past, the grandchildren lived with their grandparent(s) for a year or longer
- There was a significant relationship of at least a year's duration between the children and their grandparents
In order to petition the court for visitation rights, the grandparents must allege that said visitation is in their grandchildren's best interests and denying same could place them "in danger of substantial harm."
What grandparents can do
If you previously had access to your grandchildren but no longer do, it's a good idea to clarify why things changed. Often, when parents divorce, initially emotions run high. Perhaps one or both parents perceived your concern as an attempt to meddle. They may have decided to cut ties to prevent further attempts.
Once you learn what caused this breach, you may be able to mend it with a heartfelt apology and plea to spend time with your grandchildren.
You just learned about your grandchild
Some grandparents are stunned to learn of the existence of their grandchildren. Nevertheless, they are eager to meet them and form meaningful bonds. If such is the case with your situation, your eagerness may be seen as over-reaching. You may need to dial back your enthusiasm some to accommodate the parents and children.
If your attempts to ameliorate the situation have failed, your next step is to take legal action. Learning about your rights under Tennessee law can put you in a solid position to seek visitation.